Cambria students getting iPads

Coast Unified School District Technology Director Henry Danielson poses with boxes holding a shipment of 390 Apple iPad 2s.
Coast Unified School District Technology Director Henry Danielson poses with boxes holding a shipment of 390 Apple iPad 2s. ktanner@thetribunenews.com

Students in grades six through 12 in Coast Unified School District soon will be studying and reading on new iPads.

The district’s Board of Trustees unanimously agreed June 21 to a nearly $198,000 lease-purchase of 390 64 gig, Wi-Fi enabled, 3G model iPad computer tablets.

“I’ve been an advocate of this for a long time,” Trustee Del Clegg said when he made the motion to approve the lease/purchase. “This is awesome.”

The district will pay about $450 for each comparable iPad, which currently sells for $730 at Verizon in San Luis Obispo. Fewer iPad 2s are available because a new model was released in March.

“We couldn’t afford not to do this,” district Assistant Superintendent Karl Dearie said. “It can be so much less expensive than textbooks some high school texts cost $135 each.” Many texts “are available online, much cheaper, and some of them are free. Ultimately, the iPads will save us a tremendous amount of money.”

The Cambria-area district has been holding its own financially, thanks to retirements and cost cutting, but has adopted a budget that plans for deficit spending in 2012-2013.

The lease-purchase of 390 iPads is the second step toward the district’s goal of having a one-to-one ratio of students to tablets. At the end of the 2011-2012 school year, the district had 735 students.

District Superintendent Chris Adams told the board he has been informed two school districts in the state are already on a one-to-one basis, iPads to students.

“We could be the third,” he said.

The district’s technology director, Henry Danielson, said, “Our goal is to have grades six through 12 on a one-to-one program, so the students can take the iPads home,” to do their homework and studies there.

That also means youngsters will be responsible if something happens to the iPad, he said, just as they would be if they lost or damaged a textbook, school library book or other school equipment.

Danielson said three things made the deal possible:

 An unusual Apple deal was offered to the district June 1. The lease-purchase was a one-time, brief-window-of-opportunity offer, he said, that would essentially clear out the remaining iPad 2 models in Apple’s warehouse. The 64-gig iPad 2 is no longer available on the Apple website.

The district will pay for the new iPads with a backlog of textbook funding the district has set aside, in part because the state hasn’t been approving new book-format texts.

An “E-Rate” grant paid 90 percent of the costs to prepare the district’s schools for wireless Internet access. E-Rate is part of the Universal Service Administrative Company, which contributes toward communication systems in libraries and schools. Those wireless installations have begun at Santa Lucia Middle School and are to start soon at Coast Union High School.