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Plum school leaders consider adding Apple iPads

Michael DiVittorio

Plum school officials are considering expanding the district's iPad program to the high school.

Proposals to purchase 1,400 devices with cases from Apple so every student in grades nine to 12 could have one for the 2017-18 school year are being considered by the school board.

One option is a lease-to-own program for three years at an annual cost of $266,000; the other a one-time purchase for $798,000.

Both of the proposals come with a three-year warranty and two days of professional development training. Students would be able to take the iPads home with them and give them back to the district at the end of the year.

School director Michele Gallagher said the iPads could help students, but the board also has to watch its spending.

“I don't think that there's anybody sitting here that wouldn't say, ‘If we had the money, go do it now,'” she said. The purchase is not in the 2017-18 budget. Board member Steve Schlauch echoed Gallagher's concerns.

“I think the iPad program is great for the students and will only further enhance their educational experience,” Schlauch said. “However, it may be wise to consider delaying the iPad program a year or so.

“It would be another $266,000 we have to make up for out of the budget in order to make it work. Our top priority is the education of the students, but we also have to do it in a fiscally responsible manner considering the taxpayer as well.”

Gallagher suggested looking at cutting the deal in half by getting iPads only for ninth and 10th grades.

Acting high school Principal Justin Stephans sees the technology as a big boost for student education.

“This tool will enable our teachers to individualize instruction even more than they already do,” Stephans said. “The iPads make it easier to collaborate and create at a higher level with groups of students. These advantages will help prepare our students for their future careers.”

The board is expected to discuss the proposals again at a March 28 meeting.

There currently are 1,600 iPads in the district, with approximately 900 of those devices in the hands of sixth- through eighth-grade students.

This school is the second of a three-year cycle for the district's iPad initiative.

The devices were given to all sixth-graders in 2015-16 and then sixth- through eighth-grade for 2016-17.

“It's definitely changed the way they're able to do things at the junior high,” said Chris Burkey, director of educational technology.

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer.


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