By Mary Spicer
PENNCREST School District is going to the iPads.
During their monthly meeting Thursday night, members of PENNCREST School Board unanimously approved the “1:1 iPad initiative” for seventh through 12th grade students and teachers and authorized the purchase of equipment including iPads and teacher laptops for the 2013-14 school year.
At the request of President Luigi DeFrancesco, the resolution stipulates that the administration “will report on a regular basis the progress of the implementation of this program.”
A tentative implementation plan distributed by Andy Wheeling and Jason Williams, the district’s supervisors of K-12 Curriculum and Technology, respectively, calls for iPads and laptops to be distributed to all of the district’s teachers in grades seven through 12 in June. At the same time, the process of identifying and selecting iPad resources to use for English language arts, math, science and social studies will begin as the district adjusts its curriculum to comply with Common Core standards.
During the summer and throughout the coming school year, free iPad, Apple TV and laptop training will be offered to interested teachers from kindergarten through grade 12.
In August, iPads will be distributed to all students in grades seven through 12.
Also starting in August, iPads will be used as resources in the classroom for English language arts and math. These subjects were selected for iPad use because they are both due for their seven-year textbook revisions. Instead of purchasing new textbooks, the school district will be purchasing iPads, which will be loaded with appropriate resources. Prior textbooks will continue to be available as a classroom resource but will not be sent home with students.
Because all books will be preloaded, it will not be necessary for students to have Internet access at home in order to do their homework, Williams told the board.
Preliminary plans call for iPad minis to be distributed to students while teachers will receive full-size iPads. Cases will also be provided.
According to Wheeling, the combined curriculum and technology budgets for 2013-14 would total $1.8 million if traditional textbooks were purchased and the iPads were not introduced.
By introducing the iPads in grades seven through 12 — and not purchasing new ELA and math textbooks — the combined budgets will total $1.4 million, Wheeling said. This assumes that the iPads have a three-year lifecycle and the payments will be spread out over three years.
The cost per user will be approximately $116 per year, or about 65 cents per school day.
According to Williams, students will not be able to download apps, either at school or at home.
Safeguards that will be included on the iPads won’t allow unfettered access to the Internet, Wheeling told the board. “We can lock them down,” he said.
Exact details of many aspects of the plan, including replacement options for lost or damaged iPads, are still in the formative stages.
“I would really like to thank the board for having the courage to pursue the iPad initiative,” Superintendent Connie Youngblood said at the meeting came to a close.
Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.