BARRINGTON – The Barrington 220 Board of Education voted 6-1 to move forward with digital learning Tuesday evening, approving a new Apple computer lease and adopting a "one-to-world" technology initiative to facilitate global learning through personal laptops and tablets for students.
The initiative is a long-term plan, with a budget to be re-determined on a year-to-year basis, Barrington 220 spokesman Jeff Arnett said.
The $980,227 cost to launch this initiative is feasible within the $130 million budgeted for next school year without adversely impacting class sizes or staffing, according to officials.
Board members also approved a two-part staff reduction plan Tuesday, which Arnett said is unrelated to the new technology plan.
Arnett said board members review projected student enrollment changes for the upcoming school year each spring and this elementary staff reducation would occur regardless of budgeting the technology initiative, as elementary student enrollment has been declining.
As part of the technology initiative, Barrington 220 School District will provide all 3,150 Barrington High School students with individual Macbook Air computers this fall. Middle school students in grades seven and eight will receive Netbooks to use until the end of the 2014-15 school year, when those devices will be phased out of the district technology plan. Students in sixth grade will receive iPads.
Additionally, 225 MacBook Air laptops will be supplied to high school teachers.
For the 2015-16 school year, all middle school students will receive either an iPad or laptop computer, depending on how the previous year's iPad pilot turns out at the sixth grade level, Barrington 220 School Board President Brian Battle said.
In the 2016-17 school year, district officials said iPads will likely be introduced in third through fifth grade classrooms, while group sets of iPads will be used in kindergarten through sixth grade classrooms.
Teachers at grade levels outside of high school will receive MacBook Air laptops in the second through fourth years of the initiative, Arnett said, depending on when their students receive their respective technology.
Battle said the staff reduction was state-mandated, in order to give departing teachers at least 45 days notice before the end of the school year. The board likely issued a greater number non-renewal notices to staff than actual individuals that will be gone in the fall, Battle said.
"We gave notice to a number of very talented teachers that we hope and anticipate will be back with us next year," Battle said. "We also have to consider than a number of teachers will be retiring, moving or taking time off work."
An equivalent of 12 full-time classroom elementary teachers have been given non-renewal notice for their staff contracts, Arnett said, explaining that data does not necessarily mean 12 individual teachers since part-time staff register as half an employee in the school system.
"We've seen a three-year trend of elementary school enrollment declining," Arnett said.
Pending board action involves approving a lease-to-purchase technology option for high school students who wish to own their leased Macbook Air laptop after graduation.
Battle said the decision to move forward with school technology has been made on a pricing timeline from Apple and board members will continue to talk about the lease-to-purchase plan this spring – likely offering the same option in future years for Apple products at lower grade levels.
A final Barrington 220 budget will be approved in September when all students are registered and staffing requirements are more certain, Battle said.
Battle said that the district's $250 expenditure per high school laptop is less than two percent of the $14,000 than the school district spends on each student's education per year.
"That two percent has the potential to change how we deliver education," Battle said. "The board identified technology as a priority early-on in the budget review process. It's an intrical part of our district and will continue to open up innovative learning at all grade levels."
Barrington 220 Board of Education meeting
When: 7 p.m. April 1
Where: Barrington High School, 616 W Main St., Barrington
Info: Visit www.Barrington220.org