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School eyes expanded one-to-one
January 17, 2014

After four years with a one-to-one computer initiative, the Lisbon School District will likely be expanding its investment in student technology to three more grade levels.

Administrators told the school board last week they plan to recommend providing an iPad for each student in third through eighth grades, and a MacBook Air laptop for all students in high school. Since the program began in 2010-11, all students in sixth through 12th grades have received a MacBook laptop. The district's four-year lease with the Apple company, at about $145,000 a year, expires at the end of this school year.

Superintendent Pat Hocking told school board members that they'll likely see a formal one-to-one proposal at their 7 p.m. Feb. 13 meeting. Last week was a chance to get a preview of what will likely be presented.

Julie Hill, the district's technology director, led the discussion. She pointed out that iPads have been used extensively in the lower grades. Currently, AK through second grade classrooms each have six iPads, and each teacher has one. Each third grade classroom has 10 iPads. Although they're not assigned a particular device, fourth and fifth grade classrooms have enough iPads for each student to use one.

Hill said administrators met with an Apple representative in November to discuss the next steps. She said one question is what to do with the current MacBooks. The Apple representative recommended a trade-in program. Hill said she prefers that option to selling the machines privately, noting that buyers might have expectations after the sale that could be timely or costly to the school district.

Although costs were not discussed, Hill said trading in the MacBooks would help defer costs of the new program. She also pointed out that the school district already invested in infrastructure improvements when one-to-one was implemented four years ago, and has made more improvements since then, so those start-up costs won't be incurred again. Furthermore, she said original costs included support from Apple. Now, staff knows how to do much of that work so that kind of plan wouldn't be needed.

School board president Allan Mallie asked about the capacity difference between an iPad and a laptop.

Principal Ian Dye said there are some things the iPad can't handle, but noted that most work is stored on the Google "cloud" (offsite using the internet), so there really isn't an issue.

Board member Ann Cannon wondered about how many students don't have access to the internet outside of school, and how using the cloud might affect them.

Hill said she didn't know the answer, but that student work can still be stored onto a device as well.

Cannon also wondered about students' ability to put their own applications onto the iPads.

Hill said the school can control what is put on the devices. Hocking said it's his opinion that students be able to install what they wish, with school oversight.

Board member Dave Prasil wondered which grade levels would be able to take the devices home. Hocking said he envisions students in grades six through 12 would have that privilege, and maybe third through fifth graders could do so on certain days.

Hocking said at the February meeting the board will be asked to approve what devices to get for what grade levels. Then, he said, the district will be able to determine accurate costs.

He added that as part of the technology investment, he'll likely also recommend a security camera system for the district and possibly a key card access system for main entrances to the building.

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