Expect the load to lighten in students’ backpacks at Boyd next school year.
After months of discussion, Boyd School Board members unanimously approved the purchase of 1,200 iPad Minis for the district’s 1,143 students at Thursday night’s meeting.
The district’s decision to move to a one-to-one computer-to-student program proved the art of education continues to move toward a more digital form of instruction and away from the bulky textbooks of old.
“We have been building up to this for months,” Superintendent Ted West told the board. “We’ve talked extensively about one-to-one and the benefits it would have for our students. We have put in a lot of hours into this, and I’m proud to bring you a recommendation.”
After a series of questions and answers between the board and administration, members voted 6-0 (Ernest Partin was absent), for the initiative. Several parents and teachers in attendance at the meeting followed the vote with a round of applause.
The tablets will cost the district $394,800, of which $300,000 will be paid from the general fund and more than $120,000 for additional costs will come from an instructional material allotment provided by the state. They cost $329 each. The tablets will be issued to students during registration at the beginning of the 2013-14 school year.
The iPads are expected to increase student engagement and improve the scores of standardized tests.
“From pre-K all the way through medical school, these devices can help students and teachers,” West said. “These are transforming the classroom. It’s revolutionizing education. This is what we are excited about.
“We decided to go with (iPad minis) because of the price and the flexibility of all they can do. We feel it is a great project-use tool.”
The district purchased iPad minis for all teachers and staff last month and handed them out to teachers this week. West stressed there will be staff development and training on using the devices in the coming months and throughout the summer so teachers will know how to make the best use of the tablets in the classroom.
The district still has details to work out such as insuring the devices and deposits to be paid by students and at what grade level students will be allowed to take them home.
Boyd is one of the last districts in the county to initiative a one-to-one program. Boyd technology director Shawn Bryans said that is an advantage.
“The other schools are guinea pigs for this,” Bryans. “We’ve been able to talk to other districts and see what works best and what doesn’t.”
The state also recognizes the changing face of instruction. A recent policy update allows districts to use money from the state’s instructional material allotment fund, which has traditionally been for textbooks, to now cover technological equipment if it’s being purchased for instructional needs. The district must form a committee, or team, to review proposed purchases.
Bryans added that textbook companies are also started getting the hint.
“The textbooks companies are finally waking up to this,” Bryans said. “Now they see everyone is going digital, and the state’s textbook allotment is going to it. They are going to offer a Kindle-like bookstore. Instead of paying $90 for each textbook, it will be cheaper to purchase digital textbooks.”
“There will still be pencil and paper, though,” Bryans added.
“There will be some obstacles because we’ll be asking people to do something different from how they’ve always done things,” West said. “I’d argue from some of the (standardized) test scores we saw it’s not good enough to do things how we’ve always done things. This is about having something in place to improve student engagement where we need it to be.”