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updated: 3/19/2014 6:02 PM

Barrington District 220 will give iPads, laptops to all students

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Barrington Unit School District 220 has signed a contract with Apple that will provide iPads or laptop computers to most district students starting this fall, the school board announced this week.

Board President Brian Battle said board members believe the program is worth the expense, which is $980,227 in the first year.

"The cost to provide this technology is less than 2 percent of our operating costs," Battle said. "Considering what it can do, this is a good investment."

According to district spokesman Jeff Arnett, the project, called the "OneToWorld" technology initiative, would be rolled out gradually.

In the fall, all Barrington High School students and teachers will receive MacBook Air laptops. Because about 650 students and several teachers were part of a pilot program which began last fall, the total number of new MacBooks is 2,725.

Arnett said the district's elementary schools likely will receive tablet computers as soon as the 2016-17 school year. He said 3rd, 4th and 5th graders will each have their own iPad. Kindergartners, 1st, and 2nd graders will have iPads to share in their classrooms.

Battle said the board is not yet certain which grade would be best to switch from iPads to MacBooks. The board has decided to issue iPads to every district 6th grade student and teacher next year. The 7th and 8th graders and teachers will continue to use the HP netbook computers they used this year.

"We decided the best way to make the right decision was to give the students and teachers time to experiment with the technology," Battle said. "Sometime during the next year we will reassess what the appropriate device for the middle school is."

Battle said the board is finalizing details on a "lease-to-buy" option that would allow parents and students to buy the iPad or laptop assigned to them when they are done using it for school. Battle said the board has heard from several parents who would like that option. The plan will be ready before students leave for summer vacation, he added.

The board recently raised the cost of the district technology fee by $50, but Battle said they will not raise it again now that the program cost is better known.

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