NB begins issuing iPads to students

By Ryan Ottney

November 2, 2013

Ryan Scott Ottney

PDT Staff Writer

NEW BOSTON — Halloween may be over, but students at New Boston got a little more treat on Friday when the school began issuing iPads for students to use at school and at home. Superintendent Mike Staggs said about 50 iPads were handed out Friday morning to students from grades 6-12, whose parents have already signed release forms and paid their insurance fees.

“Even the president says we need to go digital. There should not be another hardbound book produced for schools. It’s coming from all over, and I want parents to understand that these are tools. They’re not the teacher. They’re tools the teacher can use, and we’re going to stress to our teachers that we can dramatically increase the amount of content that a student is exposed to. We can almost double it with iPads. And it may seem like something fun that they’re doing, but it’s actually work,” Staggs said.

Several years ago New Boston School received more than 100 Apple iPads for students use in the classroom. Earlier this year, the district was able to purchase more than 200 new iPad Mini’s, which — combined with their existing iPads — would allow one for every student in grades 4-12, and every teacher to use at school and at home. Staggs said the school was able to make the purchase without spending tax payer dollars, and instead used money collected from leasing the district’s FCC bandwidth and participating in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) programming.

The combined inventory of new and existing iPads will be more than enough to assign one to every student (grade 4-12 only) and every teacher to carry with them and use at school or at home. While students in Pre-K through 3 will not have their own iPad to carry home with them, Staggs said each of those grade levels will have one cart of iPads they can use in the classroom.

“We made a decision that computers (in the elementary) would be used at school more than homework assignments on the iPad at home. Because in younger grades, the teachers and all the staff thought they should learn to write. Not just answer questions on an iPad. It should be more of a basic education in Pre-K-3,” Staggs said.

Students can use the books at home, but they are are not allowed to install unauthorized apps or content to the devices, and they will be routinely checked to be sure students aren’t playing games like “Angry Birds” when they should be studying their homework.

Eventually, Staggs said, the plan is to eliminate text books and instead install ebooks and learning apps onto the devices. Doing so, he said, would save the district thousands of dollars by not purchasing new textbooks. When new iPads eventually have to be purchased to replace these, Staggs said the school will still have funds available from their FCC lease and STEM programming. Those funds are earmarked specifically for technology.

Just like their text books, students are responsible for their iPads. Parents have to sign an agreement to replace any lost or damaged equipment. Instead of having to the cover the entire cost of a new iPad, which can run several hundred dollars, parents are asked only to pay $35/year for the insurance on each device.

Those students, in grades 6-12, whose parents have already paid the insurance received their iPads during a special assembly at the school Friday. Staggs said they handed out about 50 iPads Mini’s on Friday, and will hand out to more students in grades 4-5, whose parents have paid the insurance, on Monday.

Ryan Scott Ottney may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or rottney@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Ryan on Twitter @PDTwriter.