Elementary students, teachers to get new iPads for next school year

Elementary students and teachers will have new iPads to begin the next school year, as the Huntington County Community School Corporation Board of School Trustees threw its unanimous support behind the purchases in a meeting on Monday, April 24.

Before the board took action, it heard from Lancaster Elementary School first grade teacher Jeanne Paff, who urged the board to OK the purchase of the devices for students in kindergarten through fifth grades.

“I have loved having the iPads in my classroom. They have been a wonderful source of collaboration and communication within my classroom,” Paff said. “We’ve had a chance to do some great online discussions as students post something, and then they can see what their neighbors have posted. We have group, collaborative learning that way … iPads don’t replace me — they help me.”

The purchase was broken up into three items requiring separate votes. The first, a proposal to buy student iPads, chargers, charging blocks and three years of AppleCare warranty, was approved for kindergarten through fifth grade students at a cost of $986,430. Adding protective cases for the units would bring the total cost to $1,074,280 on a four-year lease.

The second item, a recommendation to purchase 230 iPads for teachers, paraprofessionals and support staff who work with students, was also approved 7-0. That cost amounts to an additional $98,440 on a four-year lease.

However, a third item, the purchase of iPad sets with carts for use in middle school and high school classrooms, failed because of the lack of a motion. Assistant Superintendent for Business and Classified Staff Jon Bennett explained that parents would not be charged rental since the roughly 240 units would be kept at the school for use by such classes as music, art, physical education and other groups. However, the additional units would have doubled the quarterly lease payments, Bennett said.

Board member Reed Christiansen said he is optimistic about the direction the corporation is going in technology use for students.

“It’s exciting to see new iPads going into elementary schools,” he said. “I’ve talked to a couple of teachers, and I know there is varying levels of use still, in our schools, in regards to technology in the classroom. That’s to be expected, I think.”

Christiansen asked about a teacher development plan to help teachers better use technology resources. Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Chad Daugherty said professional development coordinators are working with schools and put together a teacher resource guide at the beginning of the current school year.

“They’re actually incorporating the technology as a tool to help instruction,” he added.

On another issue, Superintendent Randy Harris said the corporation received some good news, in the amount of a bid to repair the roof at Riverview Middle School. The anticipated cost had been as high as $1.4 million; however, Indianapolis Roofing and Sheet Metal submitted a quote of $978,453, prompting the board to unanimously award the contract.

Another quote from Ron Banter to fix and paint Riverview’s exterior stucco was also unanimously approved, at a cost of $92,800. Both projects will be paid using bond funding. Bennett said there is around $300,000 remaining in the bond for additional projects, adding that he is obtaining estimates for carpet replacement at three elementary schools.

The board also approved updates to school policies 7-0, on its second reading. Harris said the changes keep the corporation up to date on changes in state and federal laws.

The next regularly-scheduled school board meeting is May 8, at 7 p.m. The board also set its next public special work session for May 15, at 6 p.m.