Tariff wars come home for schools

The ongoing tariffs being presented to other nations by United States President Donald Trump have come closer to home for Oxford Schools.

The HP Chromebooks used by the schools recently increased by about 15 percent on Sept. 28 due to the tariffs put on China that targeted automotive and electronic products.

The state of Michigan provides an outlet called REMC for schools to purchase supplies, such as the Chromebooks, in bulk for a cheaper price. This is where the Oxford school district turns to purchase much of its equipment.

“In this case HP, who had submitted some of the pricing for HP Chromebooks and things like that… some of the tariffs were going to affect HP immediately,” Throne said. “So they reached out to the state and said that, come Thursday, (prices would go up).”

Throne proposed the district’s recent purchase of Chromebooks for the district earlier than usual at the board’s Sept. 25 meeting. The purchase was approved and the district bought this year’s laptop order at the usual price for the last time in the foreseeable future.

“We wanted to get that order in before the increased tariffs kicked in, (because prices) were going to go up about 15 percent from what we were told,” Throne said. “When you’re buying a thousand Chromebooks, it would be like you’re buying a lot more just from the increase in cost.”

According to Throne, the district uses Chromebooks as opposed to other laptops for Oxford High School and Oxford Middle School because administrators feel they’re the best investment. Throne said at the Sept. 25 board of education meeting that Chromebooks fit well with the two schools and noted that they’re purchased with protective cases.

“We feel like we get the best return (on) our investment (from Chromebooks),” Throne later told this reporter. “They’re relatively inexpensive, even compared to desktops and traditional laptops. The Chromebooks allow the students to do research in the class, they can access websites, they can pretty much use the devices for the majority of what they’re asked to do. We use them for state testing… (and) we thought one of the most cost-effective ways to get what we’re looking for and what our teachers were looking for was these computers.”

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