Faced with budget uncertainties related to the state's financial crisis and concerns over buying outdated technology, Palatine Township Elementary District 15 will hold off on a major tablet purchase -- for now.
The board agreed it will wait a month before considering the administration's recommendation to buy nearly 3,000 iPad 2s for about $1.2 million. About $400,000 would come from savings realized through the new operating system and new wireless network, while the other $800,000 would be steered away from budgeted laptop replacement in favor of the more mobile technology.
"We feel pretty strongly we need to be looking at these things if we want to provide the best for our kids and remain competitive as a school district in providing quality education," Deputy Superintendent Jim Garwood said. However, some board members were wary of the investment after hearing Assistant Superintendent Mike Adamczyk's presentation on next year's tentative budget, which could be $7.9 million in the red in the "unlikely" event that a proposal by Gov. Pat Quinn dramatically cuts transportation reimbursement.
Board members Manjula Sriram and Gerard Iannuzzelli also urged the district to consider buying the iPad 3 model, even though it would mean purchasing fewer given the cost at $100 more per unit.
"We're buying old technology (in the iPad 2)," Sriram said. "I truly honestly feel we should try to get the newest technology we can."
Garwood said current iPads are still running strong.
District officials touted the devices' "powerful instructional impact" at Jane Addams and Virginia Lake, where grants provided iPads to every student in certain grades. Garwood said they've offered a lower-cost solution to putting more instructional and learning tools into the hands of children in the classroom rather than the majority of technology use coming through limited and scheduled time in a computer lab.
Garwood cautioned that waiting until June to order the iPads will be problematic because each has to be processed and programmed. But Sriram said she and the other tech-savvy board members could volunteer to help so they'd be ready for the start of the year.