Marietta School Board Shows Fiscal Sense in iPad Purchase

A school board has negotiated a discount on iPads by waiting for a new model to be announced before ordering the old one, which meets its needs more cheaply.

With more school boards approving the purchase of iPads for the classroom, Marietta School board has shown an example of welcome parsimony in its order of 30 iPads. Marietta chose to wait until after the release of a new model to order the technology and negotiated a discount on the batch of older versions.

“We said, ‘Now that you have the new one, are you going to give us a break in the price?’” Superintendent Dr. Emily Lembeck said.

While the saving may be small in this case it could have perhaps been much larger with Charlotte-Mecklenburg School who found themselves spending $10 million on iPads for the classroom — then weeks later asking for $27.5 million extra to pay salaries.

Meanwhile Needham Public Schools reach the halfway point in their 30 iPad pilot program at Pollard Middle School. The iPads are proving a big hit in a variety of classes, such as music, science and language as the teachers and students work together to find increasingly better ways to utilise the new tools. With the educational app market growing exponentially as similar pilot programs take off over the country, the potential seem limitless. Students are also designing their own apps in interactive projects that both combine Information Technology skills with the subject at hand and highlight how critical computer skills will be in the future.

Pollard science teacher Brook Hoffman asked his students to essentially recreate an app that provided detailed information about elements on the periodic table. The actual app, called “The Elements,” would have cost $14 per iPad, so instead, Hoffman had his students collect much of the same information—including images and video that helped describe their selected element—and put together a page of their own.

They’ve now requested that the pilot be expanded into a second year with additional iPad purchases. Funding has been requested but not yet approved by the Finance Committee. It is to be hoped that Pollard, and other schools, will follow Marietta’s example and seek value for money in delivering these programs.

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