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updated: 6/14/2013 9:34 AM

District 15 opts for 3,000 newer-model tablets

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After board members expressed concerns last month about the longevity and already dated technology of the second generation iPad, Palatine Township Elementary District 15 officials opted to scrap their original plan in favor of a newer model.

The board Wednesday approved paying about $1.6 million over three years for 3,000 iPad 4 tablets in a deal that's technically a lease. The district agreed to a 0.9 finance rate with Apple Inc., which amounts to about $10,500 in interest over the contract.

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Deputy Superintendent Jim Garwood said the district will pay half the cost in the first year with available funds and then one-fourth each of the second and third years.

"This eliminates the roller coaster of expenses we sometimes see with technology purchases," Garwood said.

The purchase means the district will have one iPad for every 3.6 students. The devices will be allocated to each school based on that ratio, and each school's leaders will decide how to deploy them.

According to the contract, the district may sell back the iPads at a reduced rate and then use those funds for upgrades. Garwood doesn't believe that will be necessary, however. He said two- and three-year-old tablets at Jane Addams and Virginia Lake schools are running strong.

Garwood said the iPad 4 tablets have far faster wireless speeds, and there's little risk the devices will be incapable of upgrades or Apple will stop supporting them.

The lone dissenting vote came from board member Scott Herr, who said he supports tablet technology but wants to see cheaper alternatives and Google's Play for Education initiative explored. He also said there are too many unknowns about the district's long-term tablet plan.

District 15 already has about 2,000 iPads, including those at Jane Addams and Virginia Lake, as well as devices purchased for special needs students, through site-based funds and the district's mini-grant program.

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