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IPad Costs Vary Across School Districts

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Costs of IPads Varies by District

At The Schools With Audrey Linden

Much has already been reported on the LAUSD IPad controversy beginning with hacking incidents by about 360 high school students who were able to crack the security and get onto various sites. Other issues arose as to who is responsible for the cost of lost or stolen IPads, the students or the school district. The cost for keyboards to be added which was not factored in the initial $768 cost. Various other issues came up as time went on.

The IPads were to be assigned permanently to the students and every student from K up through high school were to get these IPads. The IPads were to be taken home. That ended with the hacking issue. For now, the IPads are stored in locked cases in the classrooms. Add the cost of the storage cases,which resemble large trunks. Parents have said they cannot afford the replacement costs if the IPads are lost or stolen.

Training has to be factored into the costs and training has to be not only for teachers but for their substitute teachers. If a teacher is sick for a week, shouldn’t the substitute teacher know how to do the IPad lessons? Substitute teachers need to be trained as well as teachers.

Softwear is another issue. LAUSD has opted to purchase softwear programs from Pearson. Teachers and substitutes will need to be trained in using the softwear. That cost has to be factored in. And the Pearson softwear is not yet compatible with Envision math. It will have to be.

Then there is the issue of the funding for the IPads which came out of bond money which is needed not only to build new schools but to maintain existing schools. Because of the impermanence of the life of the IPads, those connected with the bond issue intervened and slowed down the rollout.

There were problems with wifi connections at schools and the fact that many children do not have wifi at home is an issue. If those students are to use their IPads in place of text books, how can they make use of the devices if they have no wifi connections at home? Yes, some can go to the library ,but many cannot.

The Times Howard Blume and Stephen Ceasar reported on what other school districts are doing. It seems at first glance, LAUSD’s costs of $768, and this is without keyboards, is at the top. LAUSD opted to use Apple IPad 4 with 32 GB, an extended warranty, a case, Pearson softwear for three years, which is renewable, a TV per class, and 3 days of training for teachers. That training does not include substitute teachers.

KIPP is at the bottom of the cost chart with Samung Chromebook 16 GBand a standard warranty at $308. Huntsville City Schools in Alabama opted for the HP 6470 laptop with a warranty and a three year lease at $750. The laptops have the built in keyboards. San Diego Unified is using IPad 2 16 GB with an extended warranty and students and schools can choose other devices. They cost $551. Township High School District 214 in Illinois is using IPad 2 16 GB with a standard warranty, keyboard, protective case at $429. Perris Union High School District has opted for Samsung Chromebook 303C 16 GB with a standard warranty and insurance. But, students can bring in their own devices.

The other school districts investigated their students’ needs and costs and weighed factors before making a decision. The model LAUSD is using no longer is being sold to retail outlets and should have a lower price attached, but the District is locked to the fixed cost in by the contract.

San Diego Unified School District is giving younger students a Lenovo Idea Pad at $200. Township High School District in Illinois did not opt for a softwear curriculum but opted instead to let teachers choose from free programs available.

Some bought in smaller quantities and were not locked into a price. When the cost of the devices went down, the schools saved money. Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, which are independent charters in Los Angeles, did that.

Hunstville pays Pearson $200 a year per student and hopes to replace all text books with on line curriculum. Perris is developing its own curriculum.

It is difficult to compare costs with so many variables, and as some school districts opted not to purchase softwear, that brought their costs down. LAUSD is the only School District that is using bond funds. And, all funds will be used up. Questions arise as to what the best solution is. And, only time will tell. School districts are intent on using technology, and each has investigated what it feels is best for its students.

Audrey Linden

Educational Reporter

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