COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — Like many families, Lisa Morgan's living room turned into a classroom for her three kids last year. Her family opted for full remote learning and Morgan bought them all new laptops to help connect to their classes.
"We figured it would be a good investment, they could use them for years to come," she said.
It cost around $2,000 to buy all of the devices and Morgan knows other families who did the same.
"I know a lot of people purchased personal computers last year as it was encouraged by the district to, you know if you could help out in that way," she said. "It wasn't until later in the year that more became available and they were saying, hey now they're available, but that's when we were well into the year."
On Wednesday, administrators at Academy School District 20 emailed parents notifying them that they would be providing every student from 3rd through 12th grades with a district-owned device for this upcoming school year.
The school board voted in April to spend $4 million in COVID relief funds buying the devices. Parents must pay a $50 support fee per student in case the devices are lost, stolen, or damaged.
"It's very frustrating as a parent to get that email and get that demand that you pay this," Morgan said. "It's just like, there is no communication about it, there's not any discussion about it, this is how it is."
Under district policy, parents can still send their kids to school with personal devices, but the support fee is due regardless.
The district cautions that devices from home may experience difficulty connecting to the district network. Students won't be able to use home devices for state and district assessments or to connect to school printers.
Families who qualify for the federal free or reduced lunch program do not have to pay the fee. Those who don't qualify can still work with their principal and the district administration office to ask for a hardship waiver.