As I drove home from the office tonight I was fixated on what the total cost of 1 laptop would be for the 1:1 initiative over the next 3 years -- by then all 1000 HS students will have laptops. So, I pulled up an empty spreadsheet and entered some numbers.
In short, if you assume a 20% failure rate of laptops -- not unreasonable given the hazardous environment a backpack and the ground are -- each laptop will cost $1222. At this price you could buy a new chromebook each year. If you reduce the failure rate to 10% the total cost is $1053. Still less than one new chromebook per year. No administrative costs are included as I do not know what the current staffing expectations are.
Now, you might say, but these laptops are to last 8 years, isn't that going to reduce the per student cost? Well, if the failure rate is 20% then EVERY laptop will be replaced within 4 years. If the failure rate is 10%, yes, the per student cost will go down. I am unsure what shape an 8 year old laptop will be in. But I know that I do not want to use a 2007 laptop today.
Update: I forgot to add that if you buy Chromebooks at $200 each, insurance each new laptop for 1 year, and expect 20% failure rate the cost per student is $360. Copy the spreadsheet and play with the numbers yourself.