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All Kindergartners Getting iPads in Lower Merion

About 400 tablet computers, costing almost $500 apiece, will be deployed throughout the school district to the youngest students.

Every student in the 's 14 kindergarten classes this fall will have an Apple iPad tablet computer for lessons, district technology director George Frazier told Patch.

The iPads would stay in the classrooms, which was the arrangement this year for "pilot classes" that used the devices: a kindergarten class at and a first-grade class at , Frazier said.

Classrooms with morning and afternoon kindergarten classes would have morning students sharing iPads with their afternoon counterparts, according to school officials.

Those students had some of the approximately 150 iPads deployed in the district this year. About 250 more will be bought in bulk for the coming school year, at $488 per iPad, Frazier said.

"We found them beneficial for engagement," Frazier said. Many students using the devices demonstrated more interest and involvement with lessons than their peers following more traditional curricula, he said.

"There's clearly going to be more engagement (from) the student on something that's interactive," Frazier said. "More engagement translates to more learning."

On a recent Monday morning, Belmont Hills Elementary had a power outage of almost an hour. But teacher Carrie Mink's kindergartners had virtually no trouble focusing. She gave them a word, and the children first drew the word in one iPad program, then "mixed and fixed" the letters of the word in another program that simulated a magnet board.

The district began contemplating large-scale tablet programs in 2010, Frazier said. The North Penn school district is following suit.

This spring, the school district used reserve funds to for 2012-2013, but the average household still stands to pay more than $100 above the previous annual tax bill. Most district employees' at the end of June.

Frazier knows an iPad program costing more than $120,000—just for the new ones—is a considerable expense, but one he believes is a strong investment.

"People are asking, 'Will it save money?' It's less expensive than a laptop, anyway,'" Frazier said.

High school students each have their own laptop computers.

As with the laptops, "we hope to get four years out of them," Frazier said. "And many of the applications lend themselves to younger children."

The iPad program is not increasing the technology budget, according to Frazier. The district allots money each year to replace outdated equipment, and this year officials found they had enough working laptops at the high school level and elsewhere that they could use the replacement budget for a new technology initiative instead.

The school board is set to approve a final 2012-2013 budget, including the expanded iPad initiative, at 8 p.m. Monday, June 11, at the administration building next to Lower Merion High School.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to clarify how iPads and laptops are purchased and assigned in the school district.

Alyson September 13, 2012 at 03:09 AM
What about the childrens creativity and fine moter skill? What about the harzadous radition from the wireless internet and the iPads in classroom? I think this is crazy and those schools participtating in this program are sample groups for stupid technology experimentation.
chris November 13, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Kurt, the reason the area is so great, the reason home prices stay high and residents stay fat and happy IS BECAUSE of the attention and finances that the LM school district gets. If the school goes down (crayons, etc) then the area and home values go down. You dont want to pay for it, move out of the area to a place where education is not so important. It has always been that way in LM and we a DAMN PROUD of it
Barbara HInkle November 13, 2012 at 09:29 PM
agree also
Barbara HInkle November 14, 2012 at 01:39 AM
yes i know how the ipad works and that's because I have one. But these kids don't need one. All I have seen in the last 20 yrs is a bunch of kids that don't know proper grammar if it fell on them and they can't spell worth a darn and I blame the overuse of computers (spellcheck). What a waste of taxpayer's money
Anthony Wayne November 15, 2012 at 01:41 AM
Graduates from high school one hundred years ago were better prepared to be productive members of society than today. Just listen to any "man on the street" poll regarding civics, math, government, geography, etc for the embarrassing results. The federal governments control of public education has a dismal and dangerous record. Never have so many paid so much for so little. The increasing numbers of home schooling parents, especially in Pennsylvania, speaks volumes. These devices for six year olds have more to do about guilt than anything else and do nothing to address the root problems in the public schools today.

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