Kodiak school district approves $1M iPad contract
The school district is replacing its supply of Apple laptops and iPads with 2,750 new iPads, officials said during a board meeting Wednesday. The district will lease the new iPads from Apple for four years at a cost of $1,041,506.50, which includes cases, keyboards and 36 days of implementation assistance by Apple. During the board meeting, a panel of staff members, teachers and administrators said the deal will significantly reduce the district's annual technology expenditures. "We believe this lease agreement will save us about $500,000 a year over past practice," superintendent Larry LeDoux said. Revenue from the sale of old technology is expected to amount to approximately $760,540, according to school district CFO Sandra Daws.
The company purchasing the used equipment is Diamond Assets. "This company will actually come to Kodiak in June and actually box them up for us," Daws said. Tablets and laptops have become ubiquitous in schools nationwide. In 2016, 12.6 million mobile devices were shipped to primary and secondary schools across the country according to a report by Futuresource Consulting, a market research firm. Apple products, however, have been losing their grip on the education market of late. In 2016, just 19 percent of devices shipped were Apple-made, while Google Chromebooks accounted for 58 percent, and Microsoft laptops and tablets accounted for 22 percent.
During the meeting, teachers discussed the usefulness of iPads. Students and teachers currently share the supply of iPads and laptops, which are kept on carts. The new acquisition will allow students to have a device whenever they need one, according to fourth grade teacher Clifford Gertz. "It'll become seamless," he said. "So you're not waiting, 'oh I have a great idea … but when I went to get the cart, somebody else was using it.'" "It becomes a tool, like a pencil," he said. Board member Julie Hill also considered the devices' potential benefits. "One of the advantages I see," she said, "will be individualizing instruction, which will be really significant, so that you would appear to be functioning like every other person in the classroom, but the reading level could be adjusted to your reading level or the language could be adjusted to your language." Hill added that she had concerns about the iPads' widespread use. "I deal with kids who can't put their phones down, who can't stop," she said. "They're highly stimulating. Research shows – it's why we all have Facebook." "I want to make sure that we are still having real people when we're done," she added, "who can communicate and interact with other real people." LeDoux echoed Hill's point about the importance of face-to-face interaction in education. "Teaching is effective," he said. "It's a relationship, if you will, between the teacher and the student." But he said technology can supplement the teacher-student relationship. "When computers are used well, the teacher will create a learning environment where the student will reach for the tool to accomplish what they want to learn – to look up something, to publish something, to communicate," he said. "Instead of the technology just being there to be the teacher – which does not work – it merely becomes a tool."
The school board unanimously approved the acquisition. "I'm supporting this because from a cost perspective, it's a fraction of what we've done," chairman Robert Foy said. Moving forward, Foy wants to see a district-wide technology plan. "What I am still waiting for is this larger, comprehensive, 'how do we incorporate technology into learning?'" he said. "I want to think about the whole thing." He mentioned the importance of teacher training. "At what point are we going to say, 'There is a need, and you're going to – teacher – be trained to learn this need," he said. "I'm a firm believer in using technology," he added. "But I'd like to hear a broader plan soon."
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