Buying iPads for all of next school year’s fifth- and ninth-graders at Warsaw Community Schools won’t be as expensive as in the past for the corporation’s 1:1 program.

The 1:1 program refers to educational institutions that provide each student an electronic device in order to access the internet, digital course materials and online textbooks.

During the Warsaw School Board public work session Tuesday, Chief Technology Officer Brad Hagg said, “This is an exciting presentation for me to make to you because this is actually the first time I think we’ve had a normal presentation in that our 1:1 program is now operational, so this is what we said it was going to be. It’s two grade levels: grade five and grade nine. And students will use these devices for the next four years, and the devices will be fully paid off at the end of that four-year period, and then students can own those devices for $1 at the end of the program if they’ve been with us through that period.”

He said the purchase of the iPads – which the board will be asked to approve at its regular meeting Monday – is unique because the total cost of the quote is $344,122.92 from Apple.

“When we look across other years, we’ve been playing catch-up, so we did the big high school four years at a time. That was close to a million dollars. We did K through 4 at the same time, that was close to a million dollars. So, for me, this is thrilling to see such a low number when we talk about our 1:1 program,” Hagg told the school board.

“The fantastic thing is, it’s working.”

He reminded the board that in first through fourth grade, WCS bought a classroom set for every teacher’s classroom in all those grade levels. Those iPads stay in those classrooms from year to year as the students move through.

Beginning with fifth grade, students have devices that they can take home. They get the same device every year through eighth grade.

“Again, that same rotation continues on for ninth-grade students. They’ll get a device and continue to use that through grade 12,” Hagg said.

Hagg said WCS is now adopting full-size iPads every time they purchase them, and Apple has lowered the price on iPads.

“We still have two grade levels that do not have full-sized iPads, and that’s next year’s seventh- and eighth-graders. The eighth-graders actually just have iPad Mini 1s, and the seventh-graders just have iPad Mini 2s,” he said.

Hagg said they’re still looking at seeing if there’s “anything that we can do stop-gap-wise to address those eighth-grade students from two points of view. No. 1, those iPad Mini 1s can no longer be updated with the latest IOS version, so they can’t download apps once they’ve updated from the latest Apple version. So it’s causing some issues. They also can’t be tested on.”

He said it’s not so much a problem at Lakeview Middle School where there’s still a lot of fixed labs that haven’t been taken out. At Edgewood, which was “built with the future in mind” during recent renovations, Hagg said only a few laptop carts were provided. “So we’ve really had to be creative in the testing process for Edgewood.”

He said they had to scrounge around for laptops for testing at Edgewood this year and last year.

“It would really help testing-wise if we could provide iPads for that grade level, and then rotate those seventh-graders and eighth-graders who are done with them. So we’re trying to see if there’s any way to finance that and keep it going,” Hagg said. “Otherwise, the program seems to be going pretty well.”

He said he got a quote from several companies to do a four-year lease for the iPads.

He asked for quotes from three leasing companies. One knew that Apple was going to quote a price so it refused because it said Apple’s rate was too competitive and they couldn’t compete. The other one did, but it was more expensive.