Every Shawnee Mission high school student to get MacBook; iPads for middle school and elementary starting in fall

Every student in the Shawnee Mission School District will be assigned either a MacBook Air or an iPad Air provided by the district. Students will be allowed to take the computers home with them.

SMSD-logoWhen school starts next fall, every high school student will receive a laptop and every middle school student will receive an iPad. Students in 10 elementary schools will receive iPads next school year and the remaining 23 elementary schools will be supplied the following year.

At the elementary schools, those in grades three to six will be allowed to take the iPads home with them and students in kindergarten through second grade will keep the iPads at school. Every teacher in the Shawnee Mission district will have both a MacBook and an iPad and every classroom will have an Apple TV.

“This is a very large undertaking, but it is what our community has asked us to deliver,” Superintendent Jim Hinson told the school board Monday night. Earlier this month, Hinson had identified technology as an area where the district had been lagging.

The board approved the purchase, authorizing up to $20 million to be spent on the Apple transaction. That includes the hardware, the setup and professional training from Apple. The second phase, equipping the remaining elementary schools, is expected to cost another $6 million to $8 million.

Teachers in Shawnee Mission are expected to be first introduced to the new technology in a training session on March 24 when 88 Apple trainers would train all of the certified and technology staff for the day. The plan also includes summer workshops and having a trainer on-site for a year. Another 120 teachers will get additional training to they can act as coaches and mentors in the district.

The use of the technology is expected to replace a number of textbooks, which, the board was told, are out of date almost as soon as they are purchased. The technology is expected to expand the teaching capabilities to engage different learning styles and level the disparity for students whose families cannot afford it.

The district is currently exploring insurance plans that students can purchase to protect the computers from damage or theft. The insurance is expected to cost $25 to $50 per year. If a student does not purchase the insurance, they would be responsible for replacing the device.

If a student does not have Internet access at home, they will need to download the teaching materials before they leave school, Hinson said. However, the district is talking with providers about wireless access points, but he said it was too early to provide details.

The Apple purchase will use capital outlay funds, not operating funds. The district has the money on hand for the purchase, but also authorized capital outlay bonds that can include the Apple buy. The bonds will not require any increase in tax rate.

The purchases were primarily for MacBook Air 11.6 inch and iPad Air 16GB, but included other varieties of Apple products as well. Major items in the order and the quantities: MacBook Air 13 inch for teachers and administrators – 2,200; MacBook Air 11 inch for high school students – 8,300; MacBook Pro for areas that need more processing – 60; iPad Air 32 GB for teachers and administrators – 2,150; iPad Air 16 GB for middle and elementary students – 10,190; Apple TV for classrooms – 1,700.

The deployment into the remaining 23 elementary schools was delayed because the size of the rollout was too large and complex to be implemented in one school year. The equipment costs were estimated at $18.5 million, the onsite training at $900,000 and the deployment costs at $600,000.