It'll cost $8M a year to give iPads to all St. Paul students, officials say


St. Paul Public School officials say their plan to lease iPads to all its students will cost about $8 million every year.

District leaders plan to give the Apple tablets to students and teachers at all of its nearly 70 schools over the next two years. Half of the schools can expect to get iPads by early next year, which will cost the district up to $5.5 million, the Pioneer Press reports.

The district's Chief Academic Officer Matt Mohs told the Star Tribune that to get this plan moving along it would require the district to lease 28,000 iPads for students and teachers, plus an additional 1,400 laptops for teachers, during the next school year.

Starting in the 2015-16 school year, when the program is expected to be rolled out in all schools, it'll cost about $8 million every year, both papers report.

Under the lease agreement, the iPads will cost the district between $100 and $125 per student per year – which is a little more than 1 percent of the revenue that a student generates annually, Mohs told the Star Tribune.

The school board will vote on the lease next Tuesday, the Pioneer Press reports. And if approved, the funding for the program would come from a $9-million-per-year technology initiative that was approved by voters in 2012.

This tablet initiative is part of the district's Personalized Learning Plan strategy.

“Our strategy of putting Apple iPad technology directly in the hands of students will give them access to a greater range of learning tools and sources of information,” the district wrote in a letter to parents posted on its website.

There are still some details to work out, such which schools will get the iPads this coming school year; what happens if a student loses or breaks a device; when the iPads will arrive at each school; and what to do with the devices that schools already own, according to reports.

There are more than 39,000 students enrolled in St Paul Public Schools, plus nearly 5,400 full-time staff members, making it the largest district in Minnesota to implement an "iPad for every student" program.

Prior to this plan, the district had a nearly $4.3-million deal with Dell to create a new digital learning platform that would act as an online hub for everything school-related, MPR reports. But after one year, school officials decided the system didn't "serve students ... enough to continue investing in it."

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