BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – With help from pandemic relief money, the Brevard County school district is assigning some special new school supplies to thousands of kids.
While the computers are free, they will still come with a cost for families under Brevard Public Schools’ new student technology fee.
The district says its goal is to give every student, eventually, a device in school that they can take home too. It will be a multi-step process, so a big step for the district this year is to start with middle schoolers.
Brevard schools said the 8,000 computers going home will cost families $20 for one student and $40 for middle school families with two or more kids.
A Merritt Island grandmother told News 6 her family pays at least $100 a year on back-to-school items as-is.
The Thomas Jefferson Middle School grandparent did not wish to identify herself when asked but said her disproval of the fee was in part because she pays property taxes.
“There’s enough stuff right now that we have to purchase for our students,” she said.
Thousands of students were assigned free computers when Brevard Public Schools went to distance learning for the end of the 2019-2020 year.
The district said it’s still missing a couple hundred of them.
Superintendent Dr. Mark Mullins said the $20 or $40 fee for these computers will help protect them.
The superintendent said families can even pay the fee for those devices in increments.
“That minimal cost helps offset some of the potential repairs, devices that are broken or lost as well as provide staff to service our kids in maintaining those devices,” Mullins said.
At the July 13 school board meeting, a parent addressed board members saying the district should absorb the cost.
“At $20 a student times roughly 73,000 students, that feels more like a $1,460,000 money grab,” she said.
Starting with the eleven middle schools, Mullins says it will take years to assign a device to all the students.
“And hopefully our community supports that investment of that 1-to-1 device initiative to prioritize those dollars to service our kids,” Mullins said. “That will certainly be something that will be part of the discussion as we move forward.”