LYNCHBURG, Va. -

Computers have been common in Virginia classrooms for more than 30 years, but there's a growing push to personalize technology for every student.

"Our kids are wired differently today than how I was wired as a student when I went to school, so we have got to start meeting those needs," said David Childress, director of technology for Lynchburg City Schools.

Childress and other Lynchburg school administrators are launching an effort to give students throughout the division their very own mobile device.

"It allows them to connect on a level they have never been able to reach in a K-12 environment," Childress said of the program.

Starting this fall every ninth grader at E.C. Glass and Heritage High Schools will be issued a laptop.

The devices are powered with Google's "chrome" technology, which allows students to access e-mail and educational software in a secure environment.

"What it's going to do is allow students to participate in instruction at their own pace," said Doug Wickham, supervisor of instructional technology for Lynchburg City Schools.

Lynchburg schools have been testing this idea for more than a year.  Fourth and fifth graders at selected schools received their own laptops in 2012, but those devices have only been used in the classroom.

The laptops that will be issued to ninth graders this fall will have a broader purpose.

"Now, the students will be allowed to take their device home," explained Childress.  "Parents can opt out of the program."

Over the next five years, Lynchburg schools plan to issue laptops to every student in grades 4 through 12.

Eventually, the computers will be used in place of textbooks.

"It will change education in a way we have not seen for decades," said Wickham.

Parents can learn more about the initiative at a meeting Tuesday from 5 to 7 p.m., at Lynchburg's Information Technology Center on Young Place.

If school is closed or delayed because of the weather, the meeting will still take place as scheduled.