EWSC gets federal grant to purchase new iPads

In April, students at East Washington School Corporation will be using iPads thanks to a $400,000 ECF Fund grant.
The grant has been in the works for months, but Rebecca Jones, who is the school corporation’s director of student services, made the official announcement at the school board’s regular meeting, Dec. 14.
The process was slowed a bit thanks to more good news. The school corporation was originally expected to receive 32 gig iPads, but Jones said they found out they were receiving 64-gig devices for the same price.
The problem is when changes occur while working with federal money, updates in paperwork are required.
Jones said the grant wasn’t necessarily competitive, but there was a lot involved in getting it.
“There was a lot of money out there,” Jones said. “I think if schools went after it, they got it. It just took a lot of time to go after it.”
The money allows the school corporation to purchase 1,000 ipads, which is not one for every student, but Jones said some students have access to their own devices already.
“You get one if you are a student, and you wouldn’t have a device if we didn’t provide you one,” Jones said. “You’d be surprised how many of our kids don’t have a device if they don’t have a school device. They have phones, but not a home computer.
“We sent out a survey and they had to answer if they had a device or not -- not counting a device we issued them at the beginning of the year. Based on those numbers, we established a ratio. We didn’t have to get 100 percent and the fund supports that ratio.”
Jones said when the pandemic hit, schools that didn’t have one-to-one technology had trouble because students that didn’t have devices at home were at a loss on how to get online schooling completed.
This fund allows East Washington to have grades K-12 with iPads and superintendent Dennis Stockdale said that’s with no pressure on parents.
“This takes a lot of pressure off parents,” he said. “A lot of schools charge a device fee and textbook fees and we don’t. Grants like this enable us to not have any device fees. This will allow us to keep that intact for a few more years.
“It takes a lot of pressure off me, too, allowing our corporation to use money we would have spent on these devices back into programs for kids. That’s what we are here for, to create opportunities for kids.”
This shift means the end of Chromebooks at East Washington. Stockdale said many of them are reaching the end of their lives and the ones that aren’t, the school will resell and use those funds to purchase cases and needed items for the new ipads.  
The shift also means a change in programs, Jones told the school board at the December meeting the school corporation will start a Pilot with Canvas in the spring.
“Each building will pilot canvas, which is a learning platform,” Jones said. “A lot of colleges use that. It works very well with Apple and the ipads. I know it’s going to make the technology people’s lives easier to have one platform to deal with and not two different ones. Canvas will solve some of the challenges with having ipads and Google that we were seeing. We have excited teachers in every building.”


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