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.