Shawnee Mission changes fee structure for damaged digital learning initiative devices

iPad-Kid

As school begins this week, thousands of Shawnee Mission students in northeast Johnson County will be handed pricey Apple products that they’ll be entrusted with keeping damage-free throughout the year.

Of course, when you’re talking about kids and teenagers and iPads and laptops, there are bound to be some drops, spills and scratches — not to mention devices that are simply lost. The district estimates that somewhere south of 10 percent of the devices it issued last year were either damaged, lost or stolen.

Last year, however, coverage for repairing devices that were damaged came through an optional insurance policy offered by Worth Ave. Group, a third-party insurance provider. That policy cost $80 per year.

This year the district did not renew its agreement with Worth Ave., and is instead rolling out a plan to pay for damaged devices that requires no upfront payment, but that could cost more than the $80 of the insurance policy for every instance of a damaged, lost or stolen device.

For iPads, the damaged device cost schedule is as follows:

  • 1st Damaged Device: $75
  • 2nd Damaged Device: $125
  • 3rd and Subsequent Device Damage: Actual cost of repair/replacement or $250, whichever is greater.

For the MacBook Air laptops, the damaged device schedule is as follows:

  • 1st Damaged Device: $100
  • 2nd Damaged Device: $150
  • 3rd and Subsequent Device Damage: Actual cost of repair/replacement or $300 whichever is greater.

The district says it instituted the change for a number of reasons. For one, having an outside entity responsible for deciding whether or not to approve or deny a claim for a damaged device put the district in an awkward position. Worth did deny a number of claims during the year, which left parents who had paid $80 for the insurance policy still stuck with expensive repair fees. The Worth policies also did not cover lost devices, which frustrated some parents who assumed the policy covered such situations.

The new district policy requires that students who lose their devices be assessed the replacement value for the device — a controversial provision because it requires that used iPads or MacBook Airs much be replaced with new versions.

“The district must replace a lost device with a new, like-model device,” reads an FAQ prepared by the district on the new policy. “During year one of the digital learning initiative, we found that very few devices were actually lost. Many of them were either reported stolen and proof was provided that a police report had been filed, or the device, initially reported as lost, was found prior to families having to pay the assessed replacement fee.”

The district says the new fee structure is not expected to save the district much money, but that it will be assessing the costs of the new structure and the structure used in the first year to help determine what kind of system to use moving forward.