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Dual-funded BYOD from Best Buy Education gives Waconia Public Schools a sustainable 1-to- 1 device solution

Six years ago, Waconia Public Schools, which is 35 miles west of Minneapolis, launched a 1-to-1 technology initiative. It purchased tablets as part of a pilot program for 10th-grade students. 

After determining that the pilot program was successful, the district expanded it to include students in fourth, eighth and 11th grades. At that point, the district realized that this was not a sustainable program for the long term. 

“We spent a good year and a half looking at how we could move forward,” says Jeff Jeska, director of technology for Waconia. “We wanted to figure out how we could get to a 1-to-1 model with more students in a financially sustainable way.”

Jeska discovered a way for Waconia to move ahead: the dual-funded BYOD program from Best Buy Education, which combines the best of school-funded 1-to-1 and family-funded BYOD programs. District families and the schools share the cost of the devices, which makes it a financially sustainable way to get more devices into students’ hands. Jeska talked with a couple of neighboring school districts that use the dual-funded BYOD program and knew the model would work for Waconia.

Best Buy Education creates a custom e-procurement site, and families receive a voucher with discounts to shop for a selected range of devices. Families pay the balance, and Best Buy Education ships the devices directly to them. 

“Best Buy Education has completely managed all of the logistics of our families purchasing a device and eventually receiving the device,” Jeska says. “Families work directly with Best Buy Education and the online store that Best Buy Education has created for us.”

Plenty of options

One of the key components of this model is that the schools get control over the model assortment but still provide choice to families. Families can choose from several devices: two Chromebook options, a Windows laptop and a MacBook. Jeska says that while the price range on the devices goes from low to high, the district’´s standard device is an entry-level Chromebook. It is the least-expensive device and the one that 85 percent of families ultimately purchase for students.

Families are taking advantage of the BYOD program. Jeska says 63 percent of eligible families purchase their device from Best Buy Education, 23 percent of families supply their own devices from home and 13 percent borrow a district-owned device.

Trickle-down effect

The district’s current 1-to-1 program is for students in grades 5 through 12. Students in kindergarten through fourth grade are in 2-to-1 device situations and use district-owned Chromebooks or iPads. Jeska says younger students would not be in a position to have these devices in their classrooms if 63 percent of families in grades 5 through 12 did not participate in the BYOD program.

The district estimated that providing a district-owned 1-to-1 program in grades 5-12 and a 2-to-1 program ingrades K-4 would cost $340,000 annually. With the Best BuyEducation dual-funded BYOD program the district providesthe same 1-to-1 and 2-to-1 programs for an annual cost of$170,000, which is a 50 percent savings over the district-owned model.

“There is no question that ended up being one of our biggest gains,” Jeska says. “We are able to provide resources that we have not had in the district in the past. This gives our teachers the opportunity to utilize technology in the best way possible across all curriculum areas and all grade levels.”

For more information, visit www.bestbuy.com/education 

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