Lawrence school board to consider switching from laptops to iPads for high school students

Share this post or save for later

The Lawrence school board on Monday will consider a high school technology switch to iPad tablets instead of MacBook laptops.

Each Free State and Lawrence High School student is currently issued a MacBook. Switching from MacBooks to iPads, including the trade-in value, would save the district between a projected $1.2 and $1.4 million next year, according to a memo included in Monday’s agenda materials.

If iPads were leased over three years and then returned as trade-ins, the district would see an estimated savings of $4 million over that time period, according to the memo.

District administration recommends the board approve financing iPads, iMacs, professional development hours, and AppleCare+ from Apple Inc. in the amount of approximately $3.22 million, according to Monday’s meeting agenda. The cost would be paid out of the capital outlay budget.

With iPads, the district would be able to avoid the extensive repair costs that come with broken MacBooks, the memo stated. 

“Last year the district had more than $250,000 in repair costs on the MacBooks,” according to the memo. “We are currently repairing around 20-25 broken screens each week and have done so since we entered the lease 18 months ago. The initial lease repair cost us around $30,000 annually.”

The district purchased 80 iPads and distributed 30 to Lawrence High School and 30 to Free State High School in October as part of a pilot program. This was to test “education in the classroom and software, budget and the ability to sustain the yearly lease costs, and repair costs,” according to the memo.

High school students and teachers in math and English classes were given an iPad with a keyboard and mouse and were encouraged to use them through December. 

Brief feedback included in a presentation in Monday’s agenda stated that math classes felt the touch screen feature as well as the ability to draw, write, chart math problems, and present in class using the iPad served as advantages. English classes, however, felt a “general unwillingness” to try out the iPads as they preferred to keep their MacBooks, the presentation said. There was no data to quantify how the pilot program performed.

Teachers of specialized classes such as coding, journalism, video and photography were the only staff members who provided feedback that iPads wouldn’t work for their classrooms, according to the presentation. To address the issue, the district said it must “think differently,” so some classes may require a combination of iPads, iMacs and Macbooks based on their needs.

If approved, the lease would include keyboards and trackpads for the iPads, according to the agenda materials.

Here are the materials on this topic from the meeting agenda:


In other business:

• Equity update: Dr. Cynthia Johnson, executive director of inclusion, engagement and belonging, will lead a report to the board regarding the district’s equity plan during this year, including data on student attendance and tending to student behavior issues during the second quarter of this year.

According to a presentation provided in Monday’s agenda materials, daily attendance overall has decreased amongst district students since the first quarter. 31.6% of all district students are currently showing chronic absenteeism, defined as missing 10% or more of school days due to absence for any reason. 30.4% of elementary school students, 31.5% of middle school students and 39.6% of high school students are currently chronically absent. 

The number of “behavior events and students involved in incidents” decreased at elementary and high schools but increased at middle schools from the first quarter to the second quarter, according to the presentation.

The presentation also includes updates regarding its restorative approach to student behavior issues. District staff used restorative practices in 810 out of 945 behavior instances (85.7%), according to the report. Restorative practices helped to keep 34% of behavior incidents from resulting in in-school suspension (ISS) and out-of-school suspension (OSS) during the second quarter, according to the presentation.

The school board meeting will begin at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23 at district offices, 110 McDonald Drive. Meetings are open to the public, livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel and broadcast on Midco channel 26. Full meeting agendas are available at this link.

To give public comment virtually during the board meeting, email by 6 p.m. on the day of the meeting to sign up to participate by Webex video/phone conferencing.

If our local journalism matters to you, please help us keep doing this work.
Don’t miss a beat … Click here to sign up for our email newsletters

Click here to learn more about our newsletters first

Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

Latest Lawrence news:


Previous Article

Lawrence community activists examine need for reparations, local racial equity

Next Article

Kansas group: Name priests in child sex abuse report and change the statute of limitations