District 181 pulls the plug on iPad plan
Updated: July 29, 2012 4:33PM
District 181 officials have backed off a plan that would have put iPads in the hands of all third- through eighth-grade students by the 2014-15 school year.
Citing the cost and the lack of data showing the technological move would increase student performance, Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills Elementary District 181 Board members put the brakes on the proposal generated by the @d181 Initiative Committee even before a vote was taken Monday.
“This is not the time to do this,” board member Russell Rhoads said.
“My problem with this is I have nothing showing me the connection between the directive of the 1-to-1 (iPad) initiative in the classroom and performance,” board member Michael Nelson said. “We are asked to invest in iPads, but there is nothing drawing that straight line (between the technology and student performance).”
The plan would have put iPads in the hands of all district third- and sixth-graders for 2012-13 at a total program cost of $1 million. It would also have maintained iPads for fifth-graders at Elm and The Lane schools, which had the devices this past school year; provide an iPad cart at each elementary school and two at each middle school; and provide an iPad to each teacher.
Troy Whalen, assistant superintendent of business, noted that because the iPads would take the place of some of the computers the district would be purchasing anyway as part of its four-year replacement cycle, the increase in costs to the district would not be $1 million, but $269,000.
The initiative would have topped out at $1.4 million for the 2014-15 when all district students would have the devices. Staff estimated the increase in costs to the district, taking into account computers not being replaced as part of the four-year replacement cycle, would be $287,000.
Sarah Lewensohn was the only board member who expressed support for the initiative, feeling if the district did not implement the technology move it would not be keeping up with other high-performing districts.
“We worked to reach an agreement with the teachers association to hold down the (compensation) growth rate to zero in order to create an avenue for curriculum development for our kids,” Lewensohn said. “We have a teacher with a 12-year-old science curriculum.
“Every increase in tax dollars has gone for wages and we have done very little for curriculum development. We need to show the reason we held that growth rate. This is an opportunity. This is our move forward. What I see is that if we don’t approve this, we would move backward.”
Board member Marty Turek said it is not as if the district is lagging behind in technology.
“These schools are littered with computers,” Turek said. “We are not going to go backward (if we don’t have iPads). It is a financial decision that we cannot stand for.”
Board member Yvonne Mayer said while the @d181 Initiative committee put forth a good case for iPads in the classrooms, many teachers would not be equipped to implement the technology tool for this coming school year.
“We are not opposing this because we want to oppose everything,” Mayer said. “We tried it at Elm School and Matt Haeger (a fifth-grade teacher who integrated iPad use into his instruction last year) knows technology. I don’t think teachers would be ready by this fall. We did a survey of the teachers and support was not unanimous (for the iPads). Some were like ‘Teach us to use what we have. Smartboards, for example.’”
Fifth-graders at Elm and The Lane will continue to have the devices for 2012-13 and iPad training will be provided for more teachers in the district. Superintendent Renee Schuster will return to the board later with another plan for iPad use in classrooms.
“We don’t have to roll something out in September,” said Janet Stutz, assistant superintendent for learning.