SMSD to spend $20 million on student laptops, iPads

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - The Shawnee Mission School District will give Apple laptops and iPads to every one of its more than 27,000 students in an ambitious new program unanimously approved by school board members on Monday.

High school students will receive MacBooks, middle and elementary school students will get iPads and teachers will receive both. Apple TV products will be incorporated into classroom lectures and teachers will receive extensive training on the devices, all costing the district approximately $20 million.

The district will issue capital outlay bonds to fund the program, which Superintendent Jim Hinson said would mean no additional costs would be incurred by taxpayers or the district.

Hinson said after arriving from Independence last year, he heard repeatedly from parents and teachers that the district's technology was in need of an upgrade. This plan fulfills that goal, he said Monday.

Teachers will begin receiving their devices and professional development training in how to use them in March. Students at all middle and high schools and 10 of the district's more than 30 elementary schools will get their devices in August.

All students in grades three and above will be allowed to take their computers home; kindergartners through second grade students will leave them at school.

Hinson said that along with professional development, making sure infrastructure such as wireless access was available to students would be a top priority in the rollout.

"We're checking, double checking, triple checking can the devices connect to the internet when we actually get them in our hands," Hinson said.

Shawnee Mission joins North Kansas City, Fort Osage and Kansas City Public Schools in deploying a so-called "1:1" model of providing free computing devices to students to improve learning and computer literacy.

Read Hinson's full statement regarding the district's technology here: http://bit.ly/1f9zdH4

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