By the end of the month, Memphis City Schools intends to have security bugs worked out on the laptop computers it loans students, after nearly 1,800 laptops — about one in five — were stolen or lost in less than three months during the last school year, reports the Commercial Appeal of Memphis, Tenn. "We will have to design safety and an asset security plan, which likely will cost some additional money," deputy superintendent Irving Hamer told the Memphis Board of Education Nov. 3. "We will have to come back to the board for approval." Over two years, the district paid Dallas-based EPIC Learning $5.8 million to provide 7,759 leased computers and software to help high school students do better on state achievement and college entrance exams. Last year, the laptops were used less than a semester before the district collected them and locked them away when teachers noticed many were not returning to class the next day. District staff said the cost of the lost computers was covered by the vendor’s insurance. But there is no reimbursement for the 12-month software contract, which runs whether or not students are using the laptops. Last month, the board renewed the $2.4 million contract that includes leases on 7,759 laptops and license fees for 10,000 students, about one third of the high school population in the district. Then, last week, district administrators pulled the plug, saying security was still a problem. "We’re looking at all the alternatives to make them safe," said Supt. Kriner Cash. One is embedding each laptop with identification that cannot be peeled off or defaced. Last year, laptops were sent home with students with identification on adhesive strips that were easily peeled off…

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