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Farmington school board OKs final iPad lease

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news Farmington, 55024
Farmington Independent
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Farmington Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

The Farmington School District is making plans to get its last big shipment of iPads for students despite concerns from some school board members that things are moving too fast.

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Board members voted Monday to approve the three-year leases on nearly 2,000 iPad minis for the district's elementary school students. The lease is the fourth board members have approved and the last step in its efforts to put a tablet computer in the hands of every district student.

The iPad rollout began last summer with tablets for district employees. When the school year started the district handed out iPads to a group of early adopters who applied for the opportunity.

Next week, the district will take its biggest step yet in the process, handing out iPads to every student at Farmington High School.

But board member Julie Singewald raised concerns Monday that the district is moving too fast. She's worried about agreeing to another big lease when there are still unanswered questions about how well the process will work once the program is more widespread.

"I have a concern about spending this money when we have not even had a chance to see what happens when we send iPads home," Singewald said.

Students from fourth grade through high school seniors will be allowed to take their district-issued iPads home with them at the end of the school day. Kindergarteners through third graders will leave the tablets at school. None of the iPads used in the early adoption process have gone home with students.

Singewald suggested delaying the vote on the final lease until the district can identify any possible problems that arise once the iPads leave school grounds. But Charles Duarte, the district's head of instructional technology, said the district's technology staff needs time to prepare nearly 2,000 iPads for students. He hopes to have this last group of iPads out to students by early February.

"What we've heard from teachers is they are anxious to have children be able to take them home," Duarte said. "Putting that off any further may do a disservice to those kids."

Singewald made a motion to delay the lease until January to get feedback on the high school rollout, but it failed 4-2. Board members then voted 5-1 to approve the lease.

Board member Brian Treakle called the vote a "leap of faith" that the district is moving forward as planned with the implementation.

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Nathan Hansen
Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.
(651) 460-6606
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