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Parents no longer on the hook for iPads for Wellesley 5th graders

Posted by Evan Allen  January 31, 2013 11:52 AM

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Wellesley Public School officials have revised a proposal that would have required parents to buy or rent iPads for their fifth grade students. After receiving feedback from parents, the district has decided to fund the program through capital and operating budget requests as well as grants from community organizations.

“There’s been a listening to the community and some response,” said Chairwoman Diane Campbell. “As we’re moving forward, I am confident that the support is there.”

The Wellesley Educational Foundation has already voted to fund $70,243 for professional development and devices for faculty, said Campbell, and the Parent Teacher Organizations are in the process of voting on an additional $82,425 for classroom improvements and changing carts.

The budget voted by the School Committee on Tuesday included $52,054 from the operating budget fund a program coordinator position. An additional $18,541 had already been allocated from the capital budget in November, said Campbell.

The district made several other changes to the proposal, which is an expansion of a successful pilot program at Schofield Elementary School, after talking with parents.

“There have been thoughtful questions that have been raise at those PTO meetings and the larger evening meeting at the public library earlier in January,” said Campbell.

The original proposal called for students with iPads to take them home every night from school, and to keep the iPads for four years. Now, however, the iPads will be assigned to 5th grade classrooms for four years, and will stay in school buildings.

“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,” reads a posting to the district’s website.

The iPad program will include parent workshops covering topics including online safety and managing online access at home. The success of the program will be monitored with surveys, interviews and data analysis, according to the website.

Only the first year of the program will be funded partially by community groups, according to the website. After the first year, all funding will come from the capital and operating budget. The program is expected to cost a little over $100,000 per year after the first year.

Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com

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