Local Issue: iPads in the Schools


Update: On February 10, 2013, the Northfield school board voted 6-1 to approve the Transformational Technology Proposal. News coverage of the school board meeting is archived below.

On January 28, 2013, the Northfield school board received a proposal to provide students in the school district with tablet computers (iPads) beginning in the 2013-2014 school year. Teachers were issued iPads over the summer, and have been receiving training in the use of the devices since August. Task forces have also been meeting to discuss the use of the new technology, policy development, criteria for the selection of apps, and other issues related to the implementation of the iPad proposal. The iPads will be leased for three years (2013-2015) at a cost of roughly $336,000 per year. The district plans to budget another $173,000 a year for apps, digital textbooks, and other support. Students will be charged a $25 insurance fee ($20 for reduced price lunch students, $15 for free lunch students; $100 family maximum). Students in grades 6-12 will each receive an iPad2 to take home; students in elementary grades will have iPad Minis in their classrooms.

In April 2012, two public meetings were held to receive input on the proposal to provide all Northfield students with iPads. Further public meetings will be held in early January 2013 (to receive feedback on the reports of the technology task force) and in early February 2013 (to receive feedback on the final proposal to the school board).

The initiative is being spurred, in part, by a Federal effort to move from printed to digital textbooks by 2017. That goal, set by the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), has been embraced by the U.S. Department of Education and the Federal Communications Commission. Closer to home, other Minnesota school districts, like neighboring Farmington, have launched similar projects to integrate tablet technology into the classroom.

As the process moves forward, this page will be updated with current information to help residents of the district come to an informed conclusion about the issue.



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