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District 218 freshmen will get iPads to start the high school year

The summer break has just begun, but incoming District 218 freshmen can at least look forward to receiving iPad tablets when they start high school in the fall.

The rollout of the 1:1 computer program will be complete in the fall of 2017, when students in the other grades will also receive iPads.

School board members gave their final approval to the program with a 6-0 vote at the May 16 meeting. School board member Robert Stokas was absent.

“We’ve already tentatively agreed to this, but this vote makes it official,” said Ty Harting, District 218 superintendent. All the teachers in 218, which includes Richards High School in Oak Lawn, Shepard in Palos Heights and Eisenhower in Blue Island, have already received iPads and professional development during the spring semester this year.

Neighboring School District 230 also embarked on a similar 1:1 technology program this year, but the students in those schools — Sandburg, Stagg and Andrew high schools — will be receiving Chromebooks.

According to a statement on the District 218 website, “The iPad has a strong connection to education with access to a large variety of quality apps and resources. Teacher feedback highlighted the importance of the productivity apps and creativity apps that are often exclusive to the iPad. The iPad includes powerful classroom management apps and access to interactive digital textbooks and course materials.”

It concludes, “We believe that the iPad provides rich opportunities for student engagement and instructional innovation that will meet the needs of diverse learners in our district.”

Through the three-year leasing program, the district will lease 2,600 iPad Air 2 Wi-Fi 64 GB tablets and protective cases from Apple Inc., according to information on the district website. The devices will cost the district $424 to lease, but it was pointed out at the meeting that that price represents a $130 decrease from the price originally considered.

According to district officials, leasing the computers for a three-year period will cost the district about $1 million, saving $160,000 from the cost of buying them.

Students will be asked to pay a $25 fee per school year to insure the tablets against theft or damage.

Harting said the board was advised to institute the $25 fee rather than getting the full-protection insurance offered by Apple Inc., because it would be too costly and not worth it for how often it would be used.

However, President Thomas Kosowski noted that students cannot be required to pay the fee to get the iPads.

“I would strongly encourage students to pay the $25,” said Harting, because he said it would be much more expensive to have to replace a lost or damaged computer.

Students who do not pay the $25 fee, and something happens to their device, they would be required to pay the entire cost of replacing it.

But the board members agreed that students could not technically be forced to pay the entire cost.

“What if a student gets bullied and their iPad is stolen or broken, and they just can’t afford to replace it? We want all our students to be able to participate and learn using these devices,” said Harting.

Harting said the matter would be treated like a lost textbook or any damage caused by a student, in which the board does as much as possible to get the money back,

Board member Johnny Holmes pointed out that any fees owed typically follow the student through their time in school. This could prevent a student from participating in graduation and diplomas can be withheld.

“But we can’t withhold diplomas indefinitely,” said Harting.

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