New program will put tablets into the hands of thousands of Fresno Unified students

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno Unified will be putting new tablets into the hands of thousands of students to make sure they have the resources needed to be successful. The Learning Companion Device program is seen as one which helps even the educational playing field.

90% of the kids in Fresno Unified get free or reduced lunch. About half live in poverty so access to computers at home may limited or non-existent.

Students at Sunnyside High School got a head-start on the district program over the summer so they were able to take care of AP class homework on the new 8-inch, Lenovo tablets.

Sunnyside High Junior Denise Avila said, "It's amazing because a lot of students don't have this opportunity. A lot of my friends don't have laptops and all this other stuff."

Now the program will be expanded this semester to freshmen, sophomores, and juniors as well as Kindergarten and Pre-K students.

Superintendent Bob Nelson said, "Content on your tablet is what Sesame Street was for kids of my era."

For too many kids, once they leave the library, they don't have access to computers or the internet. Not only are the tablets an upgrade over what students once used in class, but they'll also be able to take them home.

Nelson wants to make sure kids living in poverty have the same opportunities as everyone else. He explained, "If I'm worried about where I'm going to lay my head or what I'm going to eat, I'm not super concerned about how I get technology into my kids' hands so we can bridge the gap right here."

24,000 tablets a year will be distributed over a three-year period. They cost the district $100 each.

Jose Luque struggled to do his homework on his phone. The new tablet has helped him raise his GPA. Luque said, "It really helps me a lot and you can tell by my grades. I went from B's to almost all A's."

Parents who want their kids to take part must first watch a video, sign an agreement and take an active role in how the student will use the tablet.

Nelson said, "We worked on some filtering to make sure parents are responsible technological users. That's part of it. We have to partner with the families to make sure they know what's going on with those kids and that tablet and we're asking them to take training."

The FUSD Superintendent said the new tablets will also help students get ready for the PSAT and SAT.
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