Manheim Township School Board weighs purchase of iPads for all students | Regional


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When: Manheim Township School School board meeting held virtually, Feb. 11.

What happened: Dan Lyons, director of technology, asked the board to approve the purchase of new iPads for all students and staff with a four-year, zero percent financing plan with Apple Inc. beginning July 2021. The board took no action because the meeting was a work session for the purpose of discussion only.

Background: The plan is a follow up to the first four-year plan that began in 2017. It will include new laptops with keyboards, previously not included, and Logitech Crayons for more handwriting and drawing experiences. It also features an improved repair process, without third-party vendors.

Cost: The four-year cost estimate is $3.2 million, down from $3.32 million for the last four years, with 0% financing, for a savings of $120,000 for 2021 to 2025. Equipment and service, valued at $40,500, will be free. The annual cost of the lease is $800,000.

Quotable: “Why are we talking about this when we don’t even know if we can meet our budget now?” asked board member JoAnn Hentz. “It seems completely irresponsible.”

Reply: Donna Robbins, the district’s chief operating officer,  said $570,000 is included in the annual budget, and a plan has been in place since 2017 to phase the cost in over several years. The annual cost of the iPad lease will be fully funded by 2022, she said. “We have to maintain our technology,” Superintendent Robin Felty added. “It must be updated so it’s usable. Otherwise it will be very expensive down the road.”

Policies: The board reviewed four policies, three of which are new, for final review in March. Three of them relate to sexual harassment, discipline for sexual assault (new) and dating violence (new); one relates to district-initiated tax assessment appeals.

Educational planning: Lyons reported on a cloud-based, computer-aided design platform that high school students and educators can access free on any device “anywhere, anytime.” Karen Nell, director of secondary curriculum and instruction, reported secondary school students are focusing on instruction Monday through Thursday, with activities, including games, on Friday….