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iPads coming to all Taylor County students

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860 iPads being purchased for $500,000

By Calen McKinney

 

Taylor County School District has taken a step toward having iPads for all of its students.

Taylor County School Board members have agreed to purchase 860 iPads for $500,000. The purchase will provide the Apple technology for about a third of the District’s students.

At last Tuesday’s regular Board meeting, Superintendent Roger Cook asked members to approve the purchase.

For the District to be able to provide an iPad for each of its students, which is the ultimate goal, Cook said it would have to spend about $1 million more.

Board member Jim Cheatham made a motion to purchase the iPads, which David Hall seconded and was unanimously approved. All Board members attended the meeting.

After the meeting, Cook said the District hasn’t received state funding to buy textbooks for the past eight years. As such, he said, the District’s books are wearing out. The future, he said, is in electronic books.

An iPad, he said, comes with the capability to download applications and any number of books.

“That’s only a third of what we need,” he said. “It’s a start.”

Cook said the District will use money from a combination of sources to purchase the iPads, most of which will come from its general fund. He said some technology funding will be used and the District will pursue some grants.

“Yes, we can afford it,” he said. “Actually, we cannot afford to [not] do it. We must help our students become 21st century ready so they can compete in a global market.”

Cook said the iPads will be used first at TCHS, with its technology funneling down to Taylor County Middle School and Taylor County Elementary School.

There are about 900 students at TCHS. Cook said the school has already purchased about 100 iPads. With the addition of 860, Cook said, all TCHS students should have access to an iPad.

And the District is working on a program that would allow students to take an iPad home with them, with their parents paying a state contract price of $200 to lease one for the school year.

Cook said teaching with technology today has become common.

“It’s the creative, innovative way to teach,” he said. “We’re really excited.”

Cook said teachers who will prove that they will use iPads every day will be given them. Teachers not planning on using them everyday won’t receive them.

He said all students, however, will have access to technology.

“We’re not gonna deny any child access to the technology they need to learn.”

The iPads will be delivered in about a month, he said. As they become outdated, they will either be sold back to Apple or parents could be given the opportunity to purchase them. Cook said this plan hasn’t been finalized.

Cook said the District hopes that all of its students will use technology at school, either by bringing their own devices, which they can do now, or by using the school’s. Those students who bring their own technological devices to school won’t receive an iPad from the District.

Cook said the iPads will be used to access textbooks, gather information via the Internet and learn from many educational applications, many of which are free.

He says students seem to love using technology in the classroom. “Students love being challenged and don’t like to be lectured to all the time. Students are used to using technology and love it,” he said.

Cook said students seem to love using electronic books. As such, he said, the District has more than doubled its e-book check out and reading statistics.

“I am excited that this technology is going to put us one step closer to our ultimate goal of becoming student individualized instruction 100 percent,” he said. “In our performance based model, students need to be able to learn at their pace, not the pace of the teacher.”

TCHS Principal Charles Higdon Jr. said he is ecstatic that the Board decided to purchase the iPads and believes students will be, too. He said information will be given to students, parents and staff members soon.

“I am confident our students will be extremely motivated and appreciative of the enormous investment toward their futures.”

Also at the Meeting:
• Board members agreed to give $5,000 to the District’s e-library to purchase electronic books.

• Board members heard an Apple computer presentation from Catherine Edelen.

• Various travel requests were approved, including trips to conferences and meetings in Bowling Green, the state fair in Louisville, band competition trips, a state writing committee meeting, a retreat at Barren River State Park, a new educator’s training in Richmond, training in Somerset, Lyons Club Allusion Show, an FFA trip to Pulaski County, a national science teacher’s conference in Louisville, a national conference in Tempe, Ariz., and a convention in San Antonio, Texas.

• The Board had first reading of a code of pupil conduct.

• A student teacher contract was approved.

Administrative Reports
• Higdon told Board members that all computer labs at TCHS are being used to the maximum space allowed and the school is in the process of creating more. He said there are 180 students involved in the Stars program.

• Taylor County Virtual Academy Principal Dr. William Mattingly told the Board that Powell and Morgan county officials have contacted him about visiting to learn about the District’s virtual school.

• Taylor County Middle School Principal Tony Jewell said his school’s year is off to a great start. He said the middle school has 628 students enrolled this year compared to last year’s 598.

• Taylor County Elementary School Interim Principal Donna Williams showed Board members photos of students using iPads in a math class. She said there are 1,109 students at TCES, and the school year got off to a great start.

• Instructional Supervisor Troy Benningfield told the Board that Campbellsville University students are excited to student teach at Taylor County schools.