Thoughts on teaching, technology, learning and life in an era of change.
Back to school ~ staff laptop policy
January 29th, 2008

The new school year began today, at least for the teachers. The day began with a Mass and a morning tea along with the staff of St. Paul’s Primary School. The two schools are situated side by side. The students begin returning on Thursday.

The most interesting item of news is that our school shall phase out its current staff laptop policy so that we are in keeping with the policy of our regional office. Presently the school supplies staff with either a Mac or PC laptop and has done so for about seven or so years. The laptops are replaced every two to three years. All of the other schools in our region do not have such a policy and staff are encouraged to purchase their own laptop via salary sacrifice. That reduces their taxable income. Not such a bad idea.

The change in policy does not particularly worry me. When I joined the school four years ago I already had a Mac laptop and I have since replaced it with a new laptop via salary sacrifice. I prefer to own my own laptop as I have greater control over its management and I prefer to look after it myself.

There are arguments for and against this change in policy. It is felt that from a fiscal perspective it is better that the funds be devoted to purchasing additional equipment for the students, particularly in the event that we evolve into a 1:1 school like some of our sister schools in the region. It is also felt that it is more egalitarian if the staff are on a similar agreement as the staff in the other schools. The staff would have access to dedicated desktop machines and shared laptops.

Others feel differently. It is felt that a number of staff may be unwilling to purchase their own laptop. Some felt, particularly heavy users of technology, that they would find it challenging to share laptops with others staff when the demand was high. Some feel that the staff are effectively taking a pay cut of $2000.00 to $3000.00 dollars as they will have to purchase their own laptop. They feel that the current policy within the school should continue as evolving syllabi demand that instructional technologies form a compulsory component of the teaching and learning programme.

I personally am not worried by the change. I think the experience of working in a startup company where we supplied most of our own equipment, used our own mobile phones for all communications and occasionally waited for 3 months between pay cheques taught me to be grateful for whatever benefits I receive from my employer these days.

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