Marietta school board to consider buying 60 iPad tablet computers
by Jon Gillooly
August 09, 2011 01:02 AM | 4788 views | 10 10 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — The Marietta Board of Education will consider a request to spend $58,000 to purchase 60 iPad tablet computers for Dunleith Elementary School at its work session tonight.

Dunleith principal Sarah Towler said when she previously worked for the system’s Title I program, she used iPads for the system’s Spring Break Math Camp.

“The different applications that we put on our iPads really enhanced and helped the skills that kids need for math,” she said. “It’s just a different way of teaching, just a different tool.”

And iPads, she said, are much easier to use than laptops.

“You can whip out those iPads so much faster than uploading, downloading, turning it on, having so many issues,” she said. “That iPad is so easy to use, and it’s so easy for a kindergartener to use it for phonics or a fifth-grader to use it for a novel. I mean, we’re a literacy school, and we’re looking at 21st Century literacy.”

Towler said the purchase would be made using federal funds and include training and a warranty.

The agenda item calls for the iPads “to assist in promoting literacy by providing students opportunities to experience ebooks as well as other content related applications,” going on to say that “students and teachers will be able to use these within their classrooms, during intervention times, Saturday School and after school activities.”

Towler did not offer any more specifics, but said the school’s teachers “have lots of after-school, before-school and kind of ‘flex time’ within the day that we teach little groups of students certain skills, and this will help enhance it by adding those skills to them.”

The iPads would be kept at the school, Towler said.

The board will also consider a recommendation from Superintendent Dr. Emily Lembeck to create a wireless network at Marietta High School.

The system’s magnet elementary, the Marietta Center for Advanced Academics, has been wireless since 2005. All of the students there are issued a laptop, which must be kept at school. Under Lembeck’s recommendation, the board would pay $9,808 to Suwannee-based Smart WAVE Technologies to replace the dated wireless system at the magnet school. Provided a month-long pilot reveals no kinks in the technology, staff would move to spend another $56,561 to turn the high school wireless by spring semester.

“We can use computers throughout the school rather than having access restricted only to computer labs,” high school principal Leigh Colburn said.

In other business, Lembeck is recommending the following:

* Approve an elective film course at the high school.

* Hire CSM, Inc. at $9,800 for a one-year contract to provide E-Rate consulting services for the system. E-Rate is a federal program that provides discounted funding for telecommunications and Internet access. The firm would advise the school system on its eligibility for E-Rate services.

* Adopt a policy for having an architectural ‘firm of record.’ Under that policy, the board would have an architect of record for projects that don’t exceed $1 million. For projects that do exceed that amount, the system would solicit proposals for architectural services. Moreover, architect of record fees would not exceed 5 percent of a project’s cost unless extenuating circumstances require board approval.

* Hear a presentation on the test scores taken by Hickory Hills Elementary School students.

* Approve a staffing agreement with Soliant Health Services through May 25, 2012, to provide two speech-language pathologists for special-needs students for a total cost of $162,000.

* Purchase a 72-passenger school bus from Rush Enterprises for $76,219.50.

* Approve an agreement with the group that runs the Head Start program out of the system’s Allgood Elementary School building through September 30, 2012. Marietta City Schools also operates three classrooms for special-needs preschool children at the facility. Under the agreement, Marietta City Schools offers the building space, while Ninth District Opportunity provides all the other costs, such as maintenance and utilities.

Tonight’s meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the boardroom, located at 250 Howard St. in Marietta.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Good Idea
August 12, 2011
I didn't support the iBook purchases several years ago for over $1,000 each for CCPS, but I think iPads and their lower cost is a much better idea. Plus they can be tracked to their current location with the built in GPS. Good job MBE.
August 09, 2011
Where's the iPad Request for Proposal?

The super says that Apple is the single source vendor- Wrong. iPads, warranties, carts and covers can come from many sources. SquareTrade provides iPad warranties at better price than Apple and has accidental damage coverage. No questions asked.

Apple Care does not cover accidental damage.

And you need two MacBooks because "are necessary in order to place all the applications on the iPads"?

Utter baloney on that one.

Granted, you want to use ARRA funds Dr. Lembeck, but that's my money nonetheless.

while you're at it
August 09, 2011
How about buying me one too? (Since we seem to have a lot of extra money, that is.)
Steve Jobs
August 09, 2011

60 iPads for an elementary school? What part of this economy and the mindset of STOP THE SPENDING do people in the public sector not understand?

Let's start with the price: Using a pencil & paper, I am calculating $966 each. Since the 16gb WiFi model retails for $499ea, that's $467 in training and peripherals per unit. Not to mention the future upkeep & service costs. Secondly, what is the benefit of kids playing with technology if the they don't understand the basics first - Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds will not help pass AYP; Third, what's the plan for security to keep these things from walking out the door? (I see a big glut of iPad sales in Marietta on Craigslist in the future).

Talk about out of touch with the public - These people have no clue!

August 09, 2011
This is laughable. Simply LAUGHABLE! I cannot believe that this woman has the gaul to make these recommendations at this point in time. The CO at Marietta City has a BAD habit of not looking before they leap. iPads.....REALLY?!?!?! What, since the school didn't make AYP suddenly iPads are going to do it for you?

Until kids can read and write, lay off the technology - because you KNOW this will come with a huge pricetag in the elusive in-service training that is supposed to happen -is paid for yet never occurs.

I pulled my child out of MCS and still have to pay taxes for this mess? There's no end to the stupidity here.
August 09, 2011
It is about time the system looked into the Federal E-rate program.

It will stop waste and abuse and will make the system abide by federal mandates on fair and competitive bidding.

Too often, Marietta's technolgy RFPs read like the winning bidder's brochure.

Also, smartWave is getting the contract to do the High School for $56,561?

Last year, in a bid to install wireless at 90 of Atlanta's campuses, the highest bid for a single campus they submitted was $57,521 and that bid was higher than AT&T's ($52,268) and Athena Wireless Communications' ($53,533).

E-Rate will promote fairer bid proposals and wiser bid awards.

IT dude
August 09, 2011
This guest network: Has the district reworked polices to help balance security with open access to Internet resources?

Has the school Board approved new technology policies giving principals and teachers discretion on how and when student personal technology devices may be utilized in classrooms? Will teachers have the flexibility to permit students to use personal iPads, netbooks and laptops for appropriate instructional activities and projects?

Will the guest wireless network receive student-level, filtered Internet access only? How filtered?

Will guest users have to at least agree to terms of service and enter a (verified) email address and name? (they should). How will you enforce acceptable use policies on a guest network?

Will you reserve the right to inspect, at any time, any personally owned device while connected to the guest wireless network. Will these policies be posted at each access point?

Do you have the resources to log, monitor and review all activities on the guest wireless network? What are those projected, ongoing costs?

I see nothing in the RFP about not giving the guest wireless full priority on your network; will it be slow compared to your regular wired and wireless networks? Seems the RFP calls for identical connection speeds. Why is that high speed necessary if you are (should be) effectively filtering?

Seems a lot need to still be planned and done. Perhaps that should be completed first.

Saw the RFP
August 09, 2011
A guest network?

Why exactly do you need 40 concurrent WiFi connections per classroom? Exactly what (and who's) devices do you plan to provide connectivity to?

Books work y'know.
August 09, 2011
No iPads. The initial cost is high. Support for Apple devices requires a new skillset from the IT dept. Apps cost money. Novels on iPads for 5th graders? Seriously? Novels cost money and besides, no one gets to take them home right?

Where do you charge 60 iPads? They need daily charging y'know. Especially if you use WiFi. What 60 PCs/laptops get iTunes installed so that you can download and update apps? Who monitors the district iTunes account and restricts apps? Who reviews and approves educational apps?

A request for an ad hoc iPad fleet to be launched in an elementary school based on the principal's anecdotal evidence should be denied.

What exactly are you using those super expensive smart boards for again? Why did we buy them and train teachers how to use them? Oh yeah, for the EXACT same reasons you want iPads.

What the!?
August 09, 2011
$56,561k for wireless is pretty high. Especially when what is in place works (per your RFP). You want to support densities of 40 wireless devices for each classroom as well as higher densities for the gym, media center and cafeteria. 40 concurrent connections per classroom? I seriously doubt you'll need densities that high in classrooms, and even higher in the gym and cafeteria. What gives? Oh wait...I see why you want to support the expensive higher densities:

You want a Guest VLAN! I'm sorry, but providing wireless connectivity for devices other than school equipment is wrong. Personal WiFi use on student, parent, guest and teacher smartphones etc. is a generous but costly idea. Do we need to give guest WiFi access to the crowd at basketball games? To the kids at lunch?

The 2 dedicated radios in each classroom/access point is only necessary because you want the guest network. You're doubling the hardware (and support/security) costs so we can check our personal email and update our apps anywhere in the school. Thanks. Hey, maybe the kids can bit torrent some movies to their personal netbooks/laptops while they sit in their backpacks!

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