Flat rock hawcreek iPads

HOPE — Computer tablets will be treated as textbooks this fall for students in Grades 6 and above in Hope-area schools.

Tablets will be distributed to all secondary school students as part of textbook distribution this fall, based on action taken last week by the Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp. Board of Trustees.

Grades 6 to 12 will be able to take the tablets home, like any other textbook.

Students at Hope Elementary School in K-5 will have an assigned iPad for use at school every day in every classroom, considered as a 1-to-1 school learning resource. Those devices will not go home with students, however.

“We’re not the first to go head-to-head with technology, but we’re ahead of many others,” Superintendent Kathy Griffey said.

While the corporation faces possible substantial funding cuts this fall, the school board approved leasing 370 Apple iPads Airs. The total investment of $179,200 will be paid in $44,800 annual payments during the next four years, Griffey said.

At the end of that period, the schools could sell the iPads back at $45 a unit or buy them for $1 a piece, the superintendent said.

The school district will utilize $33,000 from its capital projects fund and textbook fees for the first payment, Griffey said.

Noting that current textbook costs average about $150 a year, Griffey said, she believes parents won’t be asked to pay any more when tablet computers are distributed to all secondary students.

“It’s not going to be financially burdensome to parents,” Griffey said. “In general, textbook costs will be less than students would have paid last year.”

Seventh- and eighth-graders in the Hope area schools were issued iPads when the school year began in August, Griffey said. This fall, students in sixth grade and those in high school will be provided tablets.

The decision comes at a time when the northeast Bartholomew County school district faces a potential 7.5 percent reduction in funding this fall, according to figures presented to the school board. The potential loss of $429,000 is the result of a decline in the student population, which has fallen from 1,130 in 2005 to 855 students this school year.

Historically, the district’s general fund has shrunk from $6.7 million in 2008 to $5.7 million, according to archived news sources.

However, the district has been building up to this expansion of technology for the past four years, the superintendent said. Teachers have had iPads with touchscreens during that period, as well as Apple televisions and projectors, Griffey said.

She emphasized the schools will continue using a blended-learning approach that includes many print materials from the library and textbooks.

“There is no one resource or book which can fulfill all the learning needs of a course or grade level,” Griffey said. “Selecting the best of those resources is the approach we believe creates the best learning experience.”

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.