Rob Dickson is the Chief Information Officer for Kansas’ largest school district, Wichita Public Schools (WPS). He also started and currently oversees Education Imagine Academy, a virtual school. This blog takes a close look at WPS’s student device insurance program and identifies key attributes that others can use as guidance to create or refine their own district’s student device insurance strategy.
The insurance program for Dickson’s district, called Voluntary Technology Protection Program (“the Program”), is offered on an opt-in basis. If choosing to participate, parents are to pay a one-time, annual fee. The fee can vary between $30 and $10, undergoing changes. Various factors influence the distinct fees, including participation in a free and reduced meal program. Opting into the Program ensures that the devices can be repaired or replaced at no cost (besides the annual fee). The process for opting-in to this program is folded into the same form, which includes acceptable use policies, students and caregivers must fill out for receiving a device. Caregivers are presented with a clear choice to either opt in or opt out. Including the insurance program details within the same form is key to enhancing its visibility.
The insurance program description clearly states that caregivers are responsible for the loss, theft, or damage to their student(s)’ device. Those who choose not to opt into the Program will be responsible for the total cost of repairing or replacing a device if it becomes compromised. The description is also clear on what specifically is covered and what is not when participating in the Program. For example, the coverage does not extend to intentional acts or dishonest/illegal acts perpetrated on the device. It also outlines the procedure and timeline of reporting stolen devices, including when caregivers are to notify the police promptly.
The following are key attributes of the WPS student device insurance program:
Transparency and Communication: The Program description clearly communicates the details of the coverage it provides to caregivers. The transparency of what is covered and not covered preemptively addresses issues and confusion that may arise in the future. Its integration with other documents that caregivers need to sign to loan a school-issued device ensures their awareness of the Program. Requiring acknowledgement through either opting in or out prompts all caregivers to take it into consideration. It also provides a due date on when parents should pay the one-time fee to enroll in the Program.
Inclusivity: The Program offers reduced fees for families with financial hardship. The Program description is also available in Spanish to ensure accessibility and equitable understanding. Inclusivity is crucial for all families to be able to fully engage in and benefit from the Program, if they so choose.
Ease of Enrollment: The enrollment process should be user-friendly and secure. WPS provides multiple options for caregivers to participate in the Program including online payment systems, cash, check, or credit/debit card payments. Its incorporation into other documents related to student devices makes the enrollment process easier than if it was presented separately.
Periodic Review: Districts should regularly review the Program’s effectiveness, costs, and participation rates. The review process can include soliciting feedback from caregivers to identify areas for improvement. Dickson shared that the fees collected from the parents goes into an account handled by risk management. This account has consistently maintained a positive financial balance. Districts should maintain a practice of periodic review to guarantee both financial sustainability and the Program’s efficacy.
Author: Monet Massac, CoSN’s 2023 Blaschke Fellow
Introducing the second blog in a series by Monet Massac, this blog serves as a companion to the forthcoming comprehensive report on device sustainability, slated for release this Fall.
Published on: October 2, 2023
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