iPads for EACS: Weighing the Options

By Maureen Mespell
By Rachel Martin

April 10, 2012 Updated Apr 10, 2012 at 11:26 PM EDT

NEW HAVEN, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – East Allen County School board members discussed how to implement and pay for teacher and student iPads.

Members of the East Allen County School board held a special session Tuesday night talking more about iPads in the classroom, as part of their "Blended Learning" initiative. Board members invited the public for input, but only one parent shared an opinion.

The iPads will cost close to $3.8M over three years, instead of the previously estimated $1.3M. Kindergarten through fifth grade teachers already have iPads, and the Board plans to get iPads to the remaining teachers by the end of the school year. Overall approximately 6,000 iPads will be purchased for students and will be part of the curriculum by next school year.

The school plans to pay for teacher iPads upfront, including accessories, Apple TV and basic apps. The iPads range in price from $379 to $579. The Board says the iPads will not replace textbooks or the desk top computers already in place.

Now, the board needs to decide whether to implement the iPads to all grade levels at once or do a phase-in over time. They looked at three separate options:

Option A includes giving iPad3’s to 9-12 grades and iPad2’s to K-5th grades the first year. Sixth through eighth grades will receive iPads the second year. Every high school student will have their own iPad, and elementary students will have to share an iPad 1:4.

Option B involves giving 6-12 grade students their own iPad 3 and K-5th graders will share an iPad 2 1:4, but all will obtain iPads within the first year.

Option C will grant 7-12 graders their own iPad3’s, and 4-6th graders their own iPad2’s. K-3rd grades will share iPad2’s 1:4.

Teresa Knoblauch has three kids in EACS district. She was the only parent who shared her opinion at the meeting. She says she prefers Option C.

“I feel like that's the best option to get the most iPads in the hands of students and get them actively engaged in their learning,” Knoblauch said.

The Board says part of the cost will be covered through student textbook and technology fees, part will be taken from the district’s Technology Fund, and the remaining will either come from the left over $980 thousand from the Capital Projects Fund or through bonds, loans, and technology grants. They say there will be no tax impact on East Allen County residents. Either way, Knoblauch says it’s worth the money.

“I think it would be a great investment for our students and their future learning because it’s only going to prepare them as they head into high school and into college,” she said.

The Board narrowed it down to Options B and C and will decide on the best option at their next meeting.

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