GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — The Northwest Public Schools board voted board voted unanimously this week to provide iPads for all high school students.
The proposal adopted by the Grand Island school board was different from the one discussed in May, which anticipated starting with the high school before expanding to provide iPads throughout the K-12 district. The idea was to move down one grade per year, until students in all grades had an iPad.
The price cited at the May meeting for a six-year program was $533,000.
The proposal considered this week was to lease 730 iPads for two years at a cost of $154,000.
After the meeting, Northwest Public Schools business manager Sharon Placke said the technology is changing so rapidly that many people thought it did not make sense to commit beyond a two-year lease.
Brian Gibson, technology coordinator for the school district, said iPads have the potential to reduce the cost of textbook purchases.
He said some teachers use a textbook as a guide, but then have students use the Internet or free apps on their iPads to learn the principles being taught in the textbook.
Gibson said Northwest High would be one of about nine central Nebraska schools that will receive iPad training from Educational Service Unit No. 10, which will also reduce costs for the district.
After the meeting, Placke said each student will probably pay a $35 fee for use of an iPad. She said the fee would help defray the cost of buying insurance, called AppleCare, for the iPads. Low-income students who receive free or reduced-price school lunches could request a fee waiver.
Superintendent Bill Mowinkel noted that all students — regardless of whether they got the fee waived — would be responsible if their iPads were lost or damaged, just as they are responsible for damaged or lost textbooks.