Lawrence school district piloting iPads at high schools as possible replacement for MacBooks

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Some Lawrence high schoolers are using iPads this fall as part of a pilot program. The devices are under consideration for a broader rollout, to replace laptops as a cost-cutting measure. 

Since 2017, each district high schooler has been issued a MacBook Air. Middle schoolers have been issued iPads since 2016. But students in some high school classes this fall have been provided an iPad along with a keyboard and mouse as part of the pilot program.


The Lawrence High School student newspaper, the Budget, reported last week that if the district were to roll out iPads for all high schoolers next year, it could save between $2 and $4 million. However, savings might be lower than that because the district would still have to provide different devices for classes where iPads can’t handle the curriculum needs, the Budget reported.

Board member GR Gordon-Ross brought up the pilot program during board commentary Monday evening.

Gordon-Ross said he got to visit a class at Lawrence High School last week and discuss some students’ thoughts and concerns about the pilot, and share why the district is exploring the option. He said he told students about how the board looks at budget decisions and tries to balance commitments to students, staff and the district’s strategic plan.

“It was a great opportunity to have that conversation with them and have them kind of start to see that balance and start to understand that it’s not always just about them … and it’s not always just about making a willy-nilly decision because it’s the cheapest, or it’s this, or it’s that — that there’s a process, and that we all take that process very seriously,” Gordon-Ross said. “So it was a great experience. I was really happy to be a part of it.”

School board President Shannon Kimball said during the meeting that district staff members are considering the change because device leases will be up for renewal, and there have been a lot of issues with breakages and going over budget because of needed repairs to devices.

“They’ve been looking at a variety of options to try to get a handle on that situation,” Kimball said of staff members, but they don’t yet have a recommendation for the board to consider.

The school board will receive a report on the pilot program in January, Superintendent Anthony Lewis told the board Monday.

Read the full story from the Budget, which details some student and faculty concerns, at this link. Student Delaney Haase wrote a column about her experience in the pilot program, published Monday; read that at this link.

The Lawrence school board typically meets at 6 p.m. on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at district offices, 110 McDonald Drive. January meetings are set for Jan. 9 and Jan. 23. Board meeting agendas can be found at this link.

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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