School system's calculator contract amounts to about $113 per device

August 29, 2011|By JULIE E. GREENE |

WASHINGTON COUNTY — These aren’t your mother’s school calculators.

The Washington County Board of Education recently approved a contract with two suppliers for calculators, one that works out to about $113 per calculator.

Many of the calculators stay in the classrooms, but some are loaned out during the semester to students whose families cannot afford the calculators, Purchasing Supervisor Lisa Freeman told board members, according to a video of the Aug. 16 meeting on the school system’s website.

Board member Justin Hartings suggested school system officials review strategy regarding instructional technology since computers often can provide the same processes as graphing calculators. Hartings, a physicist, said he doesn’t own a calculator but uses his computer or paper for those functions.

While there is a Texas Instruments program to put calculator features on laptops, students are not permitted to take laptops to test sites for SATs, advanced-placement tests or high school assessments, said April Bishop, supervisor of secondary math. Graphing calculators are allowed.

The graphing calculators are used in middle and high schools, for algebra I and II, precalculus, trigonometry, calculus and statistics, Bishop said. Students learn how to graph, but the graphing calculators allow teachers to ask more in-depth math questions and have students do more real-world problems with large numbers or data sets.

The school board on Aug. 16 unanimously approved the consent agenda, including awarding the calculator contract to the two lowest and responsive bidders.

Scantex Business Systems of Atlanta will supply TI-84 Plus Silver Edition 10-packs of the graphing calculators for $1,133 a 10-pack, or about $79,275 a year.

Valley Business Machines of West Valley City, Utah, will supply 10-packs of TI 30X IIS Scientific Calculators for $101 a 10-pack, or about $5,046 a year.

The cost includes shipping expense, Freeman said.

The school system is not obligated to buy a minimum number of calculators or spend a minimum amount for either deal, documents show.

The one-year contract begins Sept. 1, and may be renewed for two years.

A lower bid of $1,069 for a 10-pack of graphing calculators submitted by School Specialty of Appleton, Wis., was rejected because the calculator didn’t meet specification requirements.

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