Seventh and eighth graders in Oregon schools will get a welcome amenity next year when classes start: a new iPad.
The board of education last week approved a technology lease with Apple Inc. that will put an iPad in the hands of each middle school student.
The vote was 4-0, with Michael Csehi absent. The three-year lease will cost the district $124,398.09 a year and provide for the distribution of 640 iPad 2s to students and teachers at a cost of $379 apiece.
“The students will receive their iPads in August. The teachers will start their training on them in June,” said Nathan Quigg, the district’s technology director. “We’ve been discussing this for quite a while. There’s a lot of excitement.”
With the upgrade, the district will comply with standards that soon will require students to take assessment tests online, he said. “The world is changing so fast. The U.S. Department of Education has said that textbooks as we know them will be obsolete in the next five years.”
He said high school students would be go digital in the 2014-15 school year, but a decision has not been made on the devices they’ll receive. “We’ll try iPads or something else, depending on our experiences with the junior high,” Mr. Quigg said.
P.J. Kapfhammer, school board president, said the upgrade was made possible by the district’s 2-mill permanent improvement levy, which voters renewed for five years this month.
It generates about $1.15 million annually and is used for purposes that include building repairs and buses. “This wouldn’t have been possible without the levy money,” he said. “The state will soon require testing to be done on a computer, and we don’t have enough computers to do that.”
The digital conversion eventually will extend to elementary students, he said, if the permanent improvement levy stays in effect.
Mr. Quigg said iPads were the first choice of a steering committee composed of parents, teachers, administrators, a school board member, and a student.
The iPad is compatible with the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test, and Apple has partnerships with the nation’s three largest textbook vendors that account for 90 percent of the textbooks sold.
— Carl Ryan