Sections 751 and 752 of Education Law provide for a computer software loan program in which public school districts purchase and loan computer software programs to both public and nonpublic school pupils. Currently each district receives a maximum apportionment from the State of $14.98 per child enrolled in kindergarten through grade 12 in any public or nonpublic school located within the district. In addition, pupils residing in the district and attending BOCES and certain special programs for students with disabilities may be claimed in the apportionment. The funds are to be used to purchase and/or loan computer software programs which nonpublic and public school pupils will use as learning aids.
Written requests for the loan of computer software programs to pupils enrolled in nonpublic schools must be presented to appropriate public school officials of the district in which the nonpublic school is located. Such requests are not required of public school pupils. While the written requests may be submitted by individual pupils or groups of pupils to the district, it is recommended that pupils in nonpublic schools submit their requests through their nonpublic school administrators. The most efficient way to handle the requests is generally for the nonpublic school administrator to collect individual pupil requests and submit them with the enrollment figure directly to the district.
It is the responsibility of the nonpublic school administrator to inform the district in which the school is located of the total number of pupils enrolled in the school as of the first school day of October of the base year; that is, the school year preceding the one for which the request is made. It is also the responsibility of the nonpublic school administrator to identify the computer software programs the pupils need and to convey this information to the district. All requests should be submitted to the district in a timely fashion and in accordance with the schedule set by the district after consultation with nonpublic school administrators. The request for new computer software programs should not exceed the sum of $14.98 times the number of pupils enrolled in the nonpublic school in the base year. The computer software programs requested for loan to nonpublic school pupils should be compatible with computers in the nonpublic school but there is no necessity for them to be compatible with computers in the public school.
Only computer software programs that do not contain material of a religious nature may be purchased by a public school district. The computer software programs purchased under this legislation remain the property of the district and such ownership should be indicated on each item either by means of label or other method of identification. The district is not required to loan software programs purchased prior to this legislation or purchased with other funds.
All material acquired pursuant to this legislation is to be loaned free and on an equitable basis to pupils in both public and nonpublic schools. The district may not charge any transportation, shipping, handling or administrative costs to the funds appropriated under this legislation. Such costs must be counted by the district as ordinary contingent expenses. However, if the nonpublic school requests that computer software be shipped directly to the school, the nonpublic school may be required to pay shipping costs.
The district may, if it wishes, enter into an agreement with the nonpublic school to store the computer software programs in the nonpublic school. In that case, the district may not pay storage charges of any kind to the nonpublic school.
The district may establish rules governing the loan of computer software programs which may require a pupil to reimburse the district for the damage or loss of loaned programs. Such rules must apply to both public and nonpublic school pupils.
For resident pupils in kindergarten through grade 12 students with disabilities attending a BOCES full-time, the request for loan of computer software programs must be made to the district in which the pupil resides, not to the district in which the BOCES program is located.
Students with disabilities attending private schools approved for the education of students with disabilities and for which there is a State-approved tuition rate are not eligible to request the loan of Instructional Materials Aid, including textbook, software, hardware and library materials, from public school districts under this program. The established tuition rate covers "the per pupil cost of all instructional services, supplies and equipment" and, therefore, the approved private schools should acquire appropriate materials directly as such costs are reimbursed through the tuition rate.
In summary, the responsibilities of the nonpublic school administrator are to submit to the district the total number of pupils enrolled in kindergarten through grade 12 of the nonpublic school and the list of computer software programs requested for their use. The district will purchase and loan these programs up to a maximum cost of $14.98 times the number of pupils enrolled in schools in the district. In turn, the district will receive an apportionment from the State not to exceed $14.98 per pupil. Public and nonpublic school administrators are encouraged to cooperate to the fullest extent to ensure the smooth and efficient administration of the program.
Questions and Answers
What is the definition of computer software?Computer software is defined as prepared educational programs which are subject-oriented and which are prepared for use by pupils in conjunction with computers. These computer software programs must be required for use as learning aids in a particular class or program.
What materials are excluded under the computer software program?Computers, blank diskettes or cassettes or tapes, chips (except those which are part of a software package), computer correction devices, consoles, cords, blank disks, disk drives, and other similar items of hardware are excluded under this program. Any computer software programs which are sectarian in nature may not be purchased by a school district.
Are all pupils enrolled in kindergarten through grade 12 in schools within a district eligible to borrow computer software from the district?Yes. All pupils enrolled in schools within the district are eligible to participate in this program, with the exception of special schools, as noted above, and of kindergarten pupils who are younger than the age of admission to the kindergarten of the public school district.
How much money does the district receive for this program?The district receives an amount equal to its current year’s expenses for computer software programs not to exceed a maximum allocation of $14.98 times the number of enrolled pupils.
How is the amount of money a district receives determined?The maximum allocation from the State is based on the enrollment figures in kindergarten through grade 12 as of the Basic Educational Data System reporting date of the base year; that is, the school year preceding the current school year. This figure is multiplied by $14.98 per pupil. The district submits this information to the State on State Aid Form SA 102.
How should the nonpublic school notify the district of the enrollment?The district should request and the administrator of the nonpublic school should send a letter to the district certifying the number of pupils enrolled in the school during the base year.
When should requests for the loan of computer software programs to nonpublic school pupils be submitted?While the law does not specify a date, the nonpublic school administrator is urged to assemble and submit requests to the public school district in the spring before the year in which the programs will be used. This is to ensure that the computer software programs are available for pupil use in the fall.
If computer software programs are not ordered in one school year, can the funds be carried over and used for additional orders in the following year?No. Funding for this program is on an annual basis and there is no provision for a carryover of funds from one year to the next.
Which computer software programs is the district obligated to loan?Computer software programs purchased with funds under this legislative authority are available for loan by the district to pupils attending nonpublic schools. The district should identify all computer software programs purchased with these funds and they must be made available to all pupils on an equitable basis. Computer software programs purchased with other monies are not subject to the provisions of this program.
May a district limit computer software program purchases for use with specific computers?No. Any computer software program requested for loan by nonpublic school pupils should be compatible with the computers available for their use.
Must computer software programs loaned to nonpublic school pupils under this legislation be compatible with the computers in the public schools?Not necessarily. It is essential that the computer software programs ordered be compatible with the computers in the school the pupil attends.
May a nonpublic school order computer software programs directly and bill back the public school district?No. It is the responsibility of the district to purchase the computer software programs requested by nonpublic school pupils.
May a district levy any charges such as shipping, handling and transportation costs to nonpublic schools, parents, or pupils for participation in this program?No. These materials are to be loaned free to pupils and no fees may be assessed.
What information should the nonpublic school administrator provide to the district?The administrator should provide the total enrollment of the base year and a listing of all the computer software programs needed by the pupils. In listing the programs the administrator should include the titles of the programs, level, source and any other information necessary for processing the request.
Does the law authorize the board of education to make reasonable rules covering the computer software program?Yes. Such rules must apply equally to public and nonpublic school pupils.
May a district charge pupils for damage, loss, or destruction of computer software programs?Yes. This charge must apply equally to public and nonpublic school pupils.
May boards of educational services (BOCES) provide the service needed to administer the computer software programs for local school districts?Yes. If two or more districts request this service from BOCES and other BOCES guidelines are met, BOCES is required to provide this service.
May a district lease computer software programs under this loan program?Yes. Funds may be used to lease computer software programs. Funds must be expended on an annual basis; that is, a three-year lease arrangement cannot be paid in one lump sum but would have to be spread over three annual installments.
Where may the computer software programs provided under this loan program be housed?During the school year it is appropriate for the programs to be kept at the nonpublic school so that they are available to the students. They must be kept in a place convenient for student usage such as the media center, library or classroom. During the summer districts may find it best to leave the programs in the nonpublic school or they may wish to recall them and redistribute them in the fall of the following year.