POMONA — It could be the technological first step for one rural Franklin County school district.
The West Franklin school board unanimously approved this week to solicite bids for iPads as part of a pilot program. The program would be the first of its kind for the school district, equipping four elementary school classrooms with 73 iPads for educational purposes.
“Delighted, excited,” Dotson Bradbury, school superintendent, said of the program. “I think it’s a great opportunity for our kids, and our goal is to expand the opportunity for all our students.”
While it isn’t possible right now, Bradbury said, the eventual goal is to equip all of the district’s more than 650 students with iPads. Since that route is cost-prohibitive, the district has chosen to equip the two fourth-grade classes at Appanoose Elementary School and the second- and third-grade classes at Williamsburg Elementary School for the pilot program.
“The goal would be that we would do at least that many classes again next year, depending upon what occurs with funding,” the superintendent said.
The iPads will be an asset to the classrooms, Bradbury said, because they will allow the teachers to be able to better instruct their students. The devices can be used for instructional strategies, re-teaching concepts, drill and practice, as well as student research and to teach students how to effectively navigate online. Students will not be allowed to take the iPads home, he added.
“There are a multitude of programs that will provide additional learning time for maybe some students who didn’t catch that concept the first time,” Bradbury said. “So it’s a way to do re-teaching using technology.”
The program is expected to cost the school district $24,144, which will come out of the district’s technology fund, Bradbury said. The entire cost of the program, including carts, covers, applications, staff training and Internet access, would be $58,280, with the 73 iPads costing about $500 each. Funds from a federal grant program known as the Rural Education Achievement Program, which the district gets because it is a rural school, will be used to cover the difference, Bradbury said.
The timeline for the program is to have the four classes outfitted by next fall, he said.