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Latest plan: Wellesley 5th grade families would no longer directly foot iPad bill

Superintendent David Lussier (left) and Tech Director Rob Ford, meet with parents at Wellesley Free Library in January.

Superintendent David Lussier (left) and Tech Director Rob Ford, meet with parents at Wellesley Free Library in January.

In the wake of meetings with Wellesley parents, Wellesley Public School officials have revised plans to put iPads into the hands of all 5th graders, a  plan we first brought to light in early January that would have required most families to either pay $40 a year to support their own devices or pay $155 annual for 4 years to lease a device with an option to buy for $1 at the end of that period. The 5th graders will still each get iPads under the revised proposal, but their families won’t have to pay for them directly (yes, taxes will cover some of the cost) and the kids won’t take the Apple tablets home (at least for the first year of the program).

From Wellesley Public Schools: “As we have met with parents and solicited feedback regarding the proposed 1:1 pilot expansion [the pilot took place at Schofield Elementary School during 2011-2012], we have heard some thoughtful concerns about the take home element of the original proposal. While there is great educational potential in a device that can be taken home to extend the learning day and offer continuity between the classroom and homework, we recognize that for many families, 5th grade may be a year earlier than they feel comfortable with a device in their home. Taking this feedback to heart, and after discussion with our pilot teachers and administrators, we have revised the expansion proposal.”

Funding for the program under the latest proposal would come from community organizations and from school capital and operating budgets, with the capital budget covering student device costs. (NOTE: School Committee votes on Superintendent David Lussier’s FY 14 operating budget proposal Tuesday night, Jan. 29.)

Wellesley Education Foundation has stepped forward with a $70K grant “to go towards purchasing iPad devices for 69 faculty members, including classroom teachers, special educators, curriculum specialists, administrators, and special subject teachers. Additionally, WEF’s funding will cover the cost of a Summer Professional Development Institute where faculty members and WPS Instructional Technology Specialists will collaborate to create curriculum and lesson plans leveraging the capabilities of the iPad devices.”

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