iPads For All EGHS Students Would Cost $550,000

Advantages include ability to better gear course material to each individual student as well as up-to-date material; outcome data scarce.

Teachers and administrators from East Greenwich High School gave a lengthy presentation to the School Committee Tuesday night about the benefits of providing every student at the school with their own iPad. 

The only catch? It won't come cheap. According to Supt. Victor Mercurio, the total cost of the one-time purchase of iPads for the entire school would be $550,750 – including the iPads themselves, protective casing, and professional development for teachers. 

In addition, Mercurio said, the district would want to add one full-time and one half-time staff member to support the endeavor, at a total cost of about $100,000. That may or may not be temporary, he said.

Each student would "own" their iPad, so new purchases for incoming freshman would be required. 

The benefits, according to Principal Michael Podraza and his team of presenters (including Asst. Principal Tim Chace, Science Dept. Chair Nicholas Rath, Spanish teacher Kristin Pontarelli and Latin teacher Ben Revkin), include the ability to gear learning to each individual student, to present the most up-to-date material, and to let students guide their own learning.

When asked, however, the team struggled to provide hard data that 1:1 iPads or computers improved student learning.

School Committee Vice Chair Deidre Gifford brought up another point. "I’m a little confused about where we are in the context of this initiative," she said.

In particular, she wanted to know why it appeared as if the district was moving forward on this particular initiative when other professed district priorities – such as full-day kindergarten and expanded foreign language offerings – were not even part of the discussion.

"We never really knew what [a 1:1 iPad program would] cost," said Chairman David Green in response. "Now we have at least the first look at the cost and now we have to look at it in terms of the budget."

"The train has not left the station," said Committeeman Jack Sommer in agreement.

Budget hearings begin next Tuesday, Jan. 29. The schedule is below:

  • Tuesday, Jan. 29, at 6:30 p.m. – Elementary and Secondary budgets
  • Thursday, Jan. 31, at 6:30 p.m. – Special Ed and Facilities budgets
  • Tuesday, Feb. 5, at 7 p.m. – Regular SC meeting, including Administration budget discussion.
  • Thursday, Feb. 7, at 6:30 p.m. – Athletics and Technology budgets
  • Tuesday, Feb. 26, at 7 p.m. – Regular SC meeting, including Public Budget Hearing

 All meetings take place in the library at Cole Middle School.


@Home_in_EG January 29, 2013 at 05:31 AM
I think this is a great idea
@Home_in_EG January 29, 2013 at 05:40 AM
Every book available through the library in RI can be downloaded for free. How about a huge boost to reading? Just the savings parents would have on buying books for their kids is worth considering.... But I agree, you could have the parents pay $75 a year and when they graduate, they own it. There is no doubt to anyone who has ever owned an apple product, to think that it would go obsolete in the 4 years of High school is not likely. An Apple product is not the same as a windows product. You have to have owed one to understand that. You may have upgraded your phone at every chance the carrier gave you, but really other than Siri, is there that much more your Iphone 4 does than the original? Remember the original Iphone was released 2007. That's 6 years ago and there are still quite a few in use. I know, I just upgraded mine :)
Bob Plain January 29, 2013 at 10:38 AM
Within just a few miles of here there are public schools that can't afford to give each student their own text book and we are considering giving every student an iPad. What do people in East Greenwich think about this juxtaposition?
Eric Carpenter January 29, 2013 at 11:24 AM
Why do the tablets have to be iPads? Were Android-based tablets considered? They're way cheaper than an iPad, with basically the same functionality. Seems like many classes at the HS level are already transitioning over to using Google Drive, Gmail, etc., which seems like a natural fit for Google Android devices. I sure hope all options are being considered by the school district administration, because this isn't chump change, and I assume there are costs to set up and maintain IT infrastructure to support the tablets. I also assume textbook providers aren't giving content away electronically, and I'll bet that in some cases, enhanced content may be even more costly than textbooks. Personally, I think tablets are a great idea, but there should be some serious due diligence on this one, that includes input from the district IT people.
Renu Englehart January 29, 2013 at 01:33 PM
We are big fans in this house of the Google Nexus tablet, brand new half the cost of the Ipad. Further I'd like to see some consideration for open source software. I would think one of the biggest things is licensing software for so many tablets, I use Open Office and LibreOffice with rarely a problem. To piggyback on Eric's comment, Google Drive at least lets kids keep their work on the cloud as opposed to the individual tablet - which when lost means the work is lost as well.


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