SAN ANGELO – San Angelo ISD officials say a state refund program saved local taxpayers more than $ 1.3 million after the district bought thousands of Apple devices for students, faculty and administrators.
On Monday, September 13th, 2021, the school authorities’ curators were informed about SAISD’s âdigital innovation initiativeâ.
Financial records for the past three months show the district cut roughly $ 1.7 million in checks to Apple for iPads and Apple TVs. The bill also includes new warranties, LogiTech crayons, iPad cases, and teacher training.
However, the cost to local taxpayers is far less than the $ 1.7 million price tag thanks to a federal reimbursement program, officials said Monday.
“It cost taxpayers about $ 225,000 to buy $ 1.5 million iPads,” said George McFarland, Assistant Superintendent of Business Support Services.
McFarland said the majority of the cost was covered by title money and federal dollars from Elementary and Middle School Emergency Aid (ESSER) funds, a reimbursement program through the Coronavirus Aid Relief, and the Economic Security Act (CARES).
The Congress, signed in March 2020, has allocated around $ 13.2 billion to help schools fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding has been allocated to school districts “to help them reopen safely and keep them running safely,” the Ministry of Education said.
IPads purchased for students from San Angelo are refunded thanks to the CARES Act
“The iPads we bought through this program were about 85% reimbursed, so that was pretty substantial,” McFarland said in an interview with the Standard Times.
School Board President Max Parker called it a “good investment”.
To protect that investment, McFarland said the district bought warranties for the new iPads, as well as protective cases for each device, of which there are currently thousands in San Angelo.
During a presentation at an earlier meeting in August, Assistant Superintendent Jana Rueter said that SAISD purchased up to 450 iPads and Apple TVs that were first given to teachers at Lake View and San Angelo Central High School.
Others read:The San Angelo Lions Club is bringing back the Fiestas Patrias event during Hispanic Heritage Month
Rueter said the district bought 6,025 iPads for high school students for the fall semester. Students and teachers at the San Angelo Middle School are expected to receive iPad devices from January 2022.
Based on how well the transition is going for the high school and middle school campuses, Rueter said elementary school teachers and students will receive iPad devices tentatively slated for spring and fall of 2022.
As part of its technology initiative, SAISD also paid for teachers to receive monthly training from Apple coaches on how to best integrate the devices into their classroom.
Program could be phased out textbooks
One goal of the program, Rueter said, is for teachers to design lesson plans on their faculty iPad, which can then be transferred to the students’ iPad as they sit down for class.
Rueter said the district eventually plans to phase out physical copies of textbooks for digital versions that can be downloaded onto each student’s device.
“(SAISD) is committed to providing innovative resources for future-proof learning,” said Whitney Wood, director of communications, in a statement to the Standard-Times.
Wood said that in the event that student iPad devices are “lost, damaged, or stolen (SAISD), established repair and replacement policies and procedures similar to those already in place for textbooks and other provided teaching materials will be followed.”
According to McFarland, it’s not uncommon for SAISD to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on electronics over the course of a year. He found that district budgets for students are “between $ 1 million and $ 2 million a year for devices.”
“With the influx of federal aid, we just had the opportunity to move faster in this process of increasing devices,” said McFarland.
In the years to come, McFarland said, the district will use federal funds from ESSER to buy more iPad devices and then budget annually with taxpayer dollars to replace and upgrade the technology as needed.
Others read:San Angelo ISD installs a “bio-defense system” to fight COVID-19 in middle school
John Tufts covers corporate and investigative issues in West Texas. Send him a tip at JTufts@Gannett.com.