A $311,000 lease-purchase agreement for school technology — a package that includes some 910 computers — was approved by Board of Selectmen Wednesday night, July 17.

“We are leasing 50 desktop computers, 840 student Chromebooks, and 20 staff Chromebooks,” School Technology Director Rob Miller told The Press.

“The Chromebooks include 460 elementary school Chromebooks and 380 Chromebooks for the digital learning initiative at the two middle schools,” Miller said. “The desktop computers are going to RHS labs and other locations throughout the district. At the completion of the third year, we will satisfy the terms of the lease and own the hardware. We do not return the equipment to the vendor and there is not an end of lease-purchase of the equipment.”

A memorandum from Acting Superintendent JeanAnn Paddyfoote said “...the Board of Education budgets for and makes all lease payments.

“This is a three-year lease-purchase agreement — at any one time there are three such agreements in place.”

Paddyfoote said Capital One was the winning bidder, and bids had also been solicited by J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. Fairfield County Bank, and First American Education Finance.

The interest rate is 2.96%.

Miller told the selectmen that the previous year’s lease-purchase agreement was for about the same amount as this year’s $311,000.

The schools have a system for recycling older computers for other uses when new ones are purchased, Miller said.

“I thought we were phasing out computer labs,” said Selectwoman Maureen Kozlark.

While there is now less emphasis on general high school computer labs, Miller said, there were still labs used by specialty courses like robotics engineering or graphic arts.

First Selectman Rudy Marconi wanted to be sure the three-year lease contained a “non-appropriation clause” providing a legal way to exit the lease agreement in future years if the town’s budget didn’t get approved — and the selectmen’s approval was contingent upon there being such a clause in the lease.

Although the annual technology leases are paid out of the school budget, the selectmen’s approval is needed because the lease is in the name of the Town of Ridgefield, which makes it tax exempt.

The approval passed 4-to-0 on a motion by Selectman Bob Hebert, with First Selectmen Marconi, Selectwoman Barbara Manners and Selectwoman Kozlark also in support. Steve Zemo was absent.