MOKANE - The South Callaway R-II School Board has approved the purchase of iPads for a test run of a plan to eventually provide one for each student in the district.
During the second semester, South Callaway fourth- and seventh-graders, as well as teachers district-wide, will each receive an iPad as part of a pilot program before deploying them to the whole school system starting in the 2013-14 school year.
"The technology committee has met several times to look into the logistics of a project the scale of what we're looking to do in the second semester with these two classes," Superintendent Mary Lynn Battles told the board Monday night. "We talked about adding policy changes that will come into place when we give each student a portable computing device, talking about what grade levels will be allowed to take the devices home.
"This is quite a shift in the way we educate our kids."
Board member Greg Kimminau at first questioned whether the board was getting ahead of itself in approving the iPad program before having some policies set. But he then acknowledged it would be hard to anticipate all of the policies needed before seeing the program implemented.
"In reality, we're not going to get all of those questions until you get them into students' hands," Kimminau said.
When the board previously discussed the pilot program, it had focused on providing iPads for the students and teachers in those two specific classes. Battles said on further reflection, the technology committee decided all of the district's teachers who do not have one should get an iPad next semester as well.
"It would behoove us to put (iPads) in their hands so they can be familiar with them, start using them in the classroom," Battles said.
The school board approved $122,019 to purchase 210 iPads, cases, bags and the app packages needed to make the iPads ready for classroom use.
According to Director of Technology Jeff Nelson, those uses include student assessment and testing.
"Teachers will be able to develop online assessments and tests that students can take on their iPads," Nelson said, noting that the devices also will be compatible with the new common core standards tests that will take the place of the MAP program.