Monday, January 20, 2014

SANTA BARBARA UNIFIED APPROVES $700,000 iPAD PURCHASE: Offers parents lease-to-own option

Parents who wish to purchase pay $708 @ $20 per month.
There is no funding source identified to anything beyond the pilot year

By Kelsey Brugger | The Santa Barbara Independent

Thursday, January 16, 2014  ::  Santa Barbara Unified School District approved a $700,000 iPad Air purchase at Tuesday’s board meeting. Discussed at great length over the past several months, boardmembers gave district administrators the go-ahead to officially begin the one-to-one pilot program. Third through 6th graders at Washington, Adams, and Franklin elementary schools and 11th graders at La Cuesta High School will receive iPads and cases next month.

The district is fronting the bill with the Common Core State Implementation Funds but is expecting most of the families to lease-to-buy the devices for about $20 a month for the next three years (based on results from parent surveys).

Several boardmembers voiced concerns about the shelf life of the devices and logistics of the multiyear rollout, but all approved the purchase and conceded responsibility to the district.

READ SBI Reader Comments | Spoiler Alert: LAUSD is mentioned!


Santa Barbara School District’s iPad Program Could Get Clean Install OK in January

By Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Staff Writer |

Published on 12.29.2013 6:00 p.m.  ::  If the Santa Barbara Unified School District approves a pilot iPad program, students could be using the Apple tablets every day by March.

Many teachers are already using iPads in their classrooms, but Superintendent Dave Cash and technology director Todd Ryckman have proposed the one-to-one program for schoolwide student use.

The program would require iPads for every student in grades three through six at Adams, Franklin and Washington schools, and 11th-grade students at La Cuesta Continuation High School.

Families have the option of sending an iPad to school with their child, buying one through the district’s lease-to-own program, or using a district-owned device.

According to parent surveys of the four schools, most families prefer to purchase iPads through the district.

The choices are divided seemingly along socioeconomic lines. Far more Adams and Franklin families — 80 percent and 87 percent, respectively — want to purchase iPads through the district, while less than a third of families from Washington would buy one from the district. Adams and Franklin schools serve predominantly low-income neighborhoods, while Washington historically serves higher-income households.

Washington School Principal Anne Hubbard said some families changed their minds after a parent training, when they learned more about the program.

At a special meeting Dec. 17, Ryckman explained the specifics to the Board of Education, which has the final decision on funding the program.

Every iPad purchased by the district will be covered by insurance for three years, but families must pay to replace the device if it’s lost or stolen, Ryckman said.

Families who buy iPads will have to pay $708, with monthly payments of about $20 for the device, taxes and insurance. That’s less than a retail purchase, since the district buys in bulk, according to the district's business services department.

Cash doesn’t expect many iPads to get stolen, since they can be “bricked” and made useless once they’re reported lost. The first thieves will be “ambassadors,” Cash said, because once it happens, the word will spread.

Ryckman said families won’t be able to refuse the responsibility of such an expensive device, just like they can’t refuse to use $150 textbooks.

District trustees will have to discuss that further, because some parents will “absolutely reject the concept,” board president Kate Parker said.

It would cost $660,000 for the first year of the pilot program if the district bought every iPad. If the trustees approve the purchase, the money will come from state funding for Common Core State Standards implementation.

The district is spending at least twice as much on professional learning as the hardware itself, Cash said.

His administration set up a coaching model at every school as well, so teachers can help fellow teachers learn more about the new technology.

If the board approves the iPads purchase at its Jan. 14 meeting, the district can order the iPads the next day, Ryckman said. It will take about a month for the tablets to get delivered and configured to the district’s standards before being distributed to students.

Santa Barbara District Outlines Plans, Goals for iPad Pilot Program

Four schools — Adams, Franklin, Washington and La Cuesta — have been selected to help implement the system

By Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Staff Writer | plan

Todd Ryckman, the Santa Barbara Unified School District’s technology director, explains details of the one-to-one iPad pilot program to the school board Tuesday night. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

Published on 09.24.2013 11:13 p.m.  ::  The Santa Barbara Unified School District is planning a one-to-one technology pilot program with four schools that would put an iPad in every student’s hands and implement a system of teacher and parent trainings.

Adams Elementary, Franklin Elementary, Washington Elementary and La Cuesta Continuation High schools were selected from 11 schools that wanted to get in for the pilot year, Superintendent Dave Cash said.

Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting was the first time he announced details of the pilot program publicly.

Trying out a schoolwide use of wireless devices — iPads are already being used in many classrooms across the district by teachers and students alike — has been on Cash’s to-do list for a long time.

He and his technology director, Todd Ryckman, believe it will alter the learning environment in a good way, with customization available for students and more communication between teachers and students outside of school. Content is everywhere, and having access to technology helps students with and without means to explore the world, he said.

“It’s not about technology; it’s about the way students learn,” Cash said.

The new Common Core State Standards will require more use of technology and computerized testing in 2014-15, so it’s possible that arming every student with a device like a tablet will be necessary soon enough, some board members noted.

The four schools were chosen for their leadership: Adams Principal Amy Alzina, Franklin Principal Casie Killgore, Washington Principal Anne Hubbard and La Cuesta Principal Frann Wageneck.

Cash said these women have the ability to inspire and educate others, communicate effectively and “to deliver.” Not just that, but the faculties “get it” and are committed to finding ways to make it work, he said.

There have been a lot of concerns over this idea in the past, mostly about money, equal access and network capability.

“For me, this is a civil rights issue,” Ryckman said, adding that it’s an opportunity for every student — regardless of socio-economic status — to get access to an iPad and take it home.

“If we don’t intentionally get involved in an initiative like this," Cash said, "there will be a huge gulf between schools with parents of means and Title 1 schools, and it will be difficult to bridge that gulf.”

As to money, the bottom line is the district doesn’t have enough to fund a full one-to-one program. With the proposed pilot program, every student would use the device in school and at home, which is why they wouldn’t be able to share.

It would use Common Core implementation money (the district gets $2.5 million for the next two years) to fund the pilot year. If parents buy the iPads, as some do, the pilot year obviously would cost the district nothing. If the district has to come up with all the money, it will cost $660,000 — 26 percent of all the Common Core money for just four schools.

Further implementation could cost more than $1 million a year through 2016-17, with potential ongoing cost for incoming students.

“There is no funding source identified to anything beyond the pilot year,” Cash said.

The potential to spend millions of dollars without any increase in student achievement worried board president Monique Limon.

“We can’t fall flat on our face on this one," she said. "I mean, this is a big financial investment.”

She said the district needs to balance the two competing interests of moving to advanced technology and staying fiscally solvent.

The iPad shouldn’t become the next worksheet, just a time waster without any real learning or engagement, she added. The district should be more than prepared to walk away if the results aren’t good enough, she said, and Cash agreed.

Board member Kate Parker had similar sentiments, saying the district shouldn’t overpromise about the program’s results.

It will depend a lot on how much the teachers are comfortable with the technology, board member Pedro Paz said. He added that there have been plenty of technological advances promising to revolutionize the education system, and none has delivered.

Infrastructure issues with spotty wireless coverage have caused the district grief, and Ryckman now says the newer system should be able to handle 15,000 people all using 2.5 devices at once. There are still kinks to work out, but the network has more bandwidth and is more stable and speedier than it has been “in a long, long time,” he said. “We’re fixing things as we go.”

Several schools have teachers using iPads connected wirelessly to Apple TVs, and when the wireless goes out, so does the lesson plan.

“Nothing is more frustrating to a teacher than to find a really cool lesson and to be hampered or stopped by the technology,” Ryckman said.

The item was up for discussion on Tuesday and no action was taken, but the issue will come back at a future Board of Education meeting.


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