Putnam City Schools voters to decide on bond issue to buy iPads

Putnam City Schools bond issue would call for the purchase of about 10,000 iPads for Putnam City Schools students to use.

BY MATT PATTERSON Modified: December 17, 2012 at 8:51 am •  Published: December 17, 2012

Putnam City Schools patrons will vote on a $6 million bond issue Feb. 12 that would fund the purchase of 10,000 Apple iPads if approved.

The district currently has about 3,000 iPads in use in its schools.

If the bond is approved, the first phase could be implemented as early as June. The first phase would call for the purchase of several thousand more iPads to bring the ratio to one for every four students in the district.

Phase two would call for the purchase of more iPads to bring the ratio down to one for every 2.5 students. Phase three would bring that ratio down to one for every 1.9 students.

Superintendent Paul Hurst said the iPads can help teachers personalize education through different applications in reading, writing and math.

“They help students engage,” Hurst said. “We have the ability to expand content for kids and teachers to connect with one another. The kids are collaborating and solving problems through the use of technology.”

District instructional technologist Charri Stratton said iPads are currently being used in prekindergarten classes through high school. They were first distributed in 2011.

“There are a lot of great applications for kids as young as pre-K,” She said. “They have writing apps to help teach kids how to write and work on their letters. They have spelling apps and when a student spells something correctly they are rewarding. If they’re off it tells them what they need to work on.”

Choosing a tablet

Stratton said the iPad was chosen over other tablets because of its durability and available learning applications. Representatives from Apple have assisted the district in the roll out of iPads into its classrooms.

“We looked at other products including Androids but we felt like the quality and durability of the iPad, as well as the safety net built into iTunes was something the others didn’t have,” she said.

The proposal also includes the installation of projection equipment at Putnam City North and Putnam City West high schools, along with Capps Middle School.

If approved, the bond issue would raise property taxes for those in the district. For example, a resident paying $1,000 per year in property taxes would see that total increase by $36.52 per year, or about $3 per month.

Hurst said the voters in the district have a strong history of working to improve the district through bond issues.

“One of the strengths of the community is the willingness to invest in the schools whether people have kids in school or not,” Hurst said. “This is different than building a wing onto a building or adding classrooms or athletic facilities. All of these items will be in the children’s hands and they will use them every day to learn.”