Shaler school board to vote on program that could give iPads to every student
Shaler Area School District is considering a new initiative that would eventually put iPads into the hands of every student.
On Wednesday, April 17, the school board will vote on Project Advancing Classroom Education, or Project ACE, with the goal of integrating iPads into the classrooms across the district and engage students in 21st century learning.
“We ask these kids to come to school and power down … to disconnect from technology, and it becomes an event to use technology,” said Kara Eckert, assistant to the superintendent and a member of the Project ACE team, explaining that now teachers must reserve and travel to a computer lab for class use.
“We don't want events of technology, we want to immerse them in technology.”
The district administration and Project ACE team began piloting the program this month with 30 teachers across the district and in various subject areas. The teachers received an iPad device, which syncs with an Apple TV device to project the display the iPad onto a screen.
The team would like to involve an additional 30 teachers in the pilot stage in the coming months.
If the board approves the project, the district plans to purchase 331 iPads, 200 Apple TVs and 80 MacBook Pro laptops, with the capabilities to write programs for use on the iPads, to distribute to every teacher in the district. The initial cost of the project is $312,429. In the second year of the project, additional iPads will be purchased for student use as funds allow.
“There is no magic bullet here,” said Charlie Bennet, director of business affairs. “This chunk of money will be in various places in the budget … We can better utilize our resources by changing the culture of spending. The board is not ready to throw an additional $312,000 in our budget. We'll be looking at other areas of our budget and grants that are going out.”
Administration anticipates the iPad integration project engage students as well as cut down on paper costs and textbook costs because of the capabilities of the iPads, including a feature that would allow teachers to write their own textbooks and curricular materials.
The board will vote at its meeting Wednesday, April 17, at 7:30 p.m. in the district administration building, at 1800 Mt. Royal Blvd.
Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.