Voters to decide on East Grand Schools iPad ballot question

Leia Larsen
East Grand Middle School eighth grade teacher Abby Loberg, second from right, works with students in the school's computer lab in 2009. Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi News file photo
Byron Hetzler | Sky-Hi Daily News

GRANBY — East Grand Schools has kicked off a campaign to bring iPads to every student in the district.

School board member Chip Besse and computer specialist Tina Woolley announced plans for a 2013 ballot issue during a teachers’ technology meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 21. The ballot question would be for a mill levy that would provide iPads to every student, train teachers in iPad technology and help students develop “21st Century skills.” To support the three-year iPad technology plan, the district is asking for a $400,000 mill levy, which amounts to about $5 per every $100,000 in home values and $15 for every $100,000 in business values.

“It’s really not that much money. For the cost of a medium pizza, we can provide iPads for our kids,” Besse said.

In implementing the plan, the district will first start small to work out any bugs. In year one, students in the sixth to eighth grades will get iPads first. In the first half of the second year, the iPads will go to all students at Middle Park High School. In the second half of year two, the devices will go to elementary students in the third, fourth and fifth grades. By year three, all district students will receive the iPads.

“For the cost of a medium pizza, we can provide iPads for our kids.”
Chip Besse
East Grand Schools board of education

Several other schools in the U.S. have provided “one-to-one initiatives,” providing tablet computers to every student.

“One-to-one initiatives have been around long enough that there’s research,” Woolley said. “Studies show increased achievement, engagement, improved research skills, attendance and behavior.”

East Grand School District selected iPads over other tablet devices because of their rich library of resources like learning apps, iBooks and iTunes. Woolley said they’re also compatible with schools’ current hardware and they’re cost-effective because Apple provides good pricing. Most importantly, the iPads won’t require a home Internet connection. Students without Internet can download apps and other documents while at school, then complete their homework offline. Besse said bringing iPads to every student will prepare them for technology literacy in college and bring the district to the forefront of educational technology.

The district first presented the initiative to teachers to get them on board with marketing the plan to the community through a grassroots campaign.

The decision to try and supply students with iPads was the result of technology committee meetings taking place in the district since last year. The committee formed to research school technology in hopes of discovering proven technological solutions in classrooms.

“We need buy-in from the teachers, then we’ll go out to the community with teacher support,” Besse said. “We want them to understand why we came to this conclusion and why we’re excited about it.”

Leia Larsen can be reached at (970) 887-3334 ext. 19603.

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