School Board Approves Program For 2,309 iBooks For Students, Teachers

| News

In one of the most in-depth articles we have read in a local newspaper covering a Macs-in-schools story, the Stillwater Gazette is reporting that District 834 School Board in St. Croix Valley, MN has approved a deal for more than 2,300 iBooks. The program would loan an iBook to every 78th, 8th, and 9th grade student in two middle schools in the school district, and comes with a US$2.85 million price tag over five years.

Though approved, the deal is not a signed deal as of yet. The article explains that the Boardis approval means that District staff are now authorized to further pursue negotiations with Apple, and sign a deal if that staff deems it appropriate. From the article:

Included in the initiativeis US$2.85 million price, Ryskoski said, is: 2,274 laptops for students and 135 for staff; training for staff; software "specific to the junior high curriculum;" the creation of wireless networks at both junior highs; maintenance agreements; equipment installation; and insurance for the equipment. It will also tie in the district to a network of 180 schools nationwide with similar programs. The cost remains negotiable, he said, and could go "up or down."

By the terms of that plan, Ryskoski said, 7th and 8th graders at Oak-Land would receive laptops this spring, and 7th, 8th and 9th graders would get them next fall at both junior highs. Oak-Land students would get them earlier because Principal Tom LeCloux, who proposed the initiative to the School Board, has already laid much the groundwork for the initiativeis implementation. He has had a relationship with Apple Computers for more than a decade, and company representatives pitched the program to him.

Extending the one-to-one initiative to other grades, Ryskoski said, "at todayis dollars," would require an additional US$130,000 annually.

[...]

School Board members who supported the plan, along with a handful of district parents -- two of whom worked with school officials to design the initiative -- celebrated the districtis embrace of technology as a tool to enhance learning opportunities. The initiative, they said, will greatly improve the districtis ability to reach its goal of ranking in the top 1 percent in the nation in student achievement.

The in-depth aspect of the article comes from the extensive coverage of how the board approved the program despite not having fully funded it throughout the 5 year period. The article also says that there were strenuous protests from some school board members, as well as some parents and taxpayers, over the program. We found the full article to be a very interesting read, despite the local-nature of some of the coverage.

Earlier this month, TMO also covered two Alaskan school districts that have recently instituted one-on-one Mac deals.

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