Students in classes six through 12 in the Coast Unified School District soon will be studying and reading on new iPads.
The district’s Board of Trustees unanimously agreed on 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 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 in the district’s goal of having a one-to-one ratio of students to tablets.
District Superintendent Chris Adams told the Board of Trustees June 21 that he’s been told there are two school districts in the state that are already on a one-to-one basis, iPads to students. At the end of the 2011-2012 school year, the district had 735 students.
“We could be the third,” he said, although other districts hope to do the same thing soon, according to what their administrators told
Adams and Coast’s Technology Director Henry Danielson at a schools seminar on July 22 and 23 in Solvang.
“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, Danielson said.
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.
There are three key parts to Coast’s iPad equation, Danielson told The Cambrian:
• An unusual Apple deal, of fered to the district on June 1. The lease-purchase was a one-time, brief-window-ofopportunity 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 web-site.
• 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; and
• An “E-Rate” grant that 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 at Coast Union High School soon.
“My guess,” Danielson said, “is the middle school and part of the high school will be ready by August, and all the schools will be by December.” In the meantime, he’ll have his hands full — he has to install software and apps on the 390 iPads currently stacked in boxes in his office.
Andy Zinn, parent of a district student, says using money already set aside for textbooks and owning the hardware sounds good.
It doesn’t take long for a printed text to be out of date, he said. “If we do lose more and more money from the budget,” the iPads will be the only way to keep up with textbook needs. “With the iPad, students will get the most up-to-date information. If the money has to go for textbook needs anyway,” and the board uses it to buy prior-model iPads and e-texts, then “that’s a good thing. If our biggest fear is of losing the money, not having budgets for texts five years from now,” he said, the ability to update a text inexpensively online “is worth a lot of money.”