I was right: The funds for a 1:1 iPad program don’t exist

I've written posts before objecting to public schools starting iPad pilot programs. My main argument was that they don't have the funds to follow through and give every student an iPad. Well, yesterday I came across a school district outside of Minneapolis that just proved me right.

The Little Falls school board just voted to spend 1.1 million dollars to buy 1,420 iPads and support equipment for 150 classrooms. This is an expansion of a pilot program that they ran last year with 220 students and teachers to cover all students in grades 5 to 12.

I'm all for getting gadgets for the students, but I really have a problem with how they're funding this purchase. They're cutting 75% of their $200k yearly textbook budget and diverting the difference to buy the iPads. The rest of the million dollars this will cost will be pulled from the operating budget. Yes, they're going to cut the maintenance to buy iPads.

You might think they have slack in their budget to cover this expense but I really don't see how. The economy and house prices have been down these past several years, which means any spare money in the budget has already been spent . This year's maintenance budget is almost certainly less than last year's, and with this new program it's going to shrink even more.

Also, the Morrison County Recorder has the cost broken out by line item. There's a mention at the end of the article about the proposed budget for 2011-2012. The Little Falls School District is short $124k on a $24 million budget.

Like I've been saying all along, there is no money for this.

image by Al_HikesAZ

About Nate Hoffelder (11374 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

8 Comments on I was right: The funds for a 1:1 iPad program don’t exist

  1. That’s true, but my understanding is some schools don’t have the funds for 1:1 textbooks, so I’m not sure that should be a barrier.

  2. This won’t matter much.
    They’re inventing faster transmission for a bike, when the rocket’s coming.
    If you have 20 minutes to watch Salman Khan’s TED talk on Khan Academy, you’ll see what I mean. I couldn’t possibly summarize. And it only started in 2004 – incredible.
    http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/1090

    • Thanks!

      You’re right; that is a whole new way of doing things.

    • curiosity killed the.. // 27 March, 2011 at 4:53 pm // Reply

      i agree about the khan academy revolution is soon to explode for education i watched that video 2 weeks ago and enjoyed reliving my 1st 10 years of school math in the matter of a week .
      however i think that schoolboard should have found a much better root for bringing computers into the classroom than the ipad.
      90% of the population still runs on windows even if apple products gain some ground over the next few years the vast majority of businesses/individuals will be still running windows.
      2. what they spent on ipads $500 a pop they could have bought 2 laptops with better specs and the ability to be worked on if/when they get abused.
      the lack of a real keyboard will seriously hinder the ipads ability to be academic in general.
      and the fact that they cut into their operating budget to pay for these has me wondering how they will justify upgrades in the futures when they wear out,lost,stolen,abused,inappropriate content gets downloaded onto 1 and then transfers to another student at the end of the year.
      not to mention the drops in prices of laptops when tablets become more popular companies will be practically giving them away to schools to keep them being built.

  3. The bad part is that this is essentially a no bid contract. Apple is a vertical monopoly which will will able to squeeze money out of the school district indefinitely.
    In the case of Android tablets, it would be possible to set up competitive bids with ongoing competition. Specs for ruggedness, modularity etc., could be applied. Education specific programming could be maintained internally.
    Of course it is too early to have a broad rollout of tablets, with the XO-3 and Indian Government initiatives to roll out sub $100 units it would be best to hold off a year or two.

  4. It’s been my experience that school districts fall in love with tech, and will spend money on it even if it’s ill-thought-out, lacks teacher buy-in, and doesn’t have tech support resources in the district. They think that adding tech, no matter what it is, will “prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow.”

  5. Also these schools are jumping on the bandwagon a bit too early. IPads have only been out for a little over a year. In a couple of years, there would be tablets that will make these look primitive in function, weight, and battery life.

    It reminds me of high school in the 1980s. My school had bought a bunch of Radio Shack TRS 80s. We were taught to program in BASIC. How useless that was about three years later.

    Plus, how man of these are going to survive the first year of school. There will be damaged units and stolen units.

  6. Technology advances at the speed of technology! The fact that a new faster blackberry will be coming out next year won’t stop a consumer from purchasing the current model. Our children need accesss to the BEST education possible RIGHT NOW. I applaude Apple for moving in the direction of educational applications. Education is monoploized by the companies that create work/text books! They have and had the mind to continue to reproduce the same content…give or take a word or two and have been able to continously drain the budgets and resourceses of our contries school systems. We have to move forward sometime….the future is NOW….don’t let fear hold us back.

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