School board approves lease for 2,000 iPads

Staff Writer

Students and teachers in the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District may soon be using Apple iPads in the classroomfollowing a vote by the school board.

At its meting Tuesday night, the board unanimously approved the lease of 2,000iPads from Apple, along with professional development from the company to ensure teachers employ the devices effectively. The devices will come equipped with several types of educational software. The devices will be concentrated at the middle and high school level, but will be used across all levels. The approximate cost for the first year of the lease is approximately $225,000, and the devices are anticipated to arrive within the next four to six weeks. At least initially, the devices will remain at the schools. Over the next four years, the district will pay Apple close to $800,000 for the lease.

“We’re just really excited to increase the number of digital devices in our classrooms for our students, continuing to work towards becoming a one-to-one, which means having a device for every student in the district,” said Superintendent Eddie Peasant.

The district first began working toward the lease in the spring, with Peasant visiting Apple’s facilities. The board also heard from Apple representatives at its July meeting, and some professional development was offered by Apple at the district’s Sparking Excellence Summit prior to the start of the school year.

“We’ve been working with them,” Peasant said. “They’ve taken their time and, what I’ve learned over the past few months of working with people from Apple. They have a really strong commitment to K-12 education, and providing ways for teachers to improve instruction, make instruction relevant to today’s learners, but also giving students knowledge and skills in technology.”

Assistant Superintendent Christy Maulding further explained the technology.

“It flattens the world,” Maulding said. “Overnight, kids who have never been out of Oktibbeha County can have access to China, Australia or Alaska. They can take virtual field trips. They can have virtual pen pals. When you begin to talk about the integration in science, our kids will be able to virtually dissect a frog while they are learning. I just think it’s going to enhance all of their opportunities.”

Maulding said at the middle and high school levels, the district would have five carts of iPads per grade.

Peasant said some details in the contract would be ironed out prior to the deal going through, to ensure the district gets the best deal and everything is legally sound.

The Board also unanimously approved the district’s 2018-2019 budget and an order requesting a levy of ad valorem taxes for the school year, and the ad valorem tax request worksheet.

Projected revenue for the district is $56,423,387, and projected expenditures are $81,313,327. Expenditures are higher due to construction funds mainly related to the Partnership School project. Both budget items were approved in one motion with the rest of the financial items.

Peasant also said the district was going into the year with 5,127 students enrolled.