It seems like just yesterday that the amazing community of Arcola came together to raise $750,000 for the school district to move to a 1:1 Digital Learning Platform. But believe it or not, those devices were purchased almost five years ago and have been used by students for four school years beginning in the 2014-2015 school year.
Since that implementation, the school district has realized many positive outcomes as a result of this new technology including:
- Improved student engagement
- Preparation of our students for digital literacy
- Shift in learning activities to be more relevant to the real world
- Improved communication between teachers and students
- Increased student achievement
- Preparation of our students for college and career readiness
But over the last year, we began to see some limitations with the original technology and as a result, the district spent several months studying the issue of refreshing the technology to ensure we are providing the most current, up-to-date technology so we can continue to move forward with the district vision, which is “to be an innovative leader in providing educational experiences that create an individualized plan for each and every student.”
As a result, the Arcola School Board just approved the purchase of all new technology devices for the students in Grades K-12 for the 2018-2019 school year. The students in grades K-6 will upgrade from an iPad 2 or 4 device to the newly released iPad 6 device. The students in grade 7-12 will upgrade from an iPad 4 to a 10.5” iPad Pro Device that will also include an iPad Pencil along with a Logitech Slim Case and Keyboard combination. The iPad Pro is a significant upgrade over the iPad and each student will have his/her own keyboard to go along with the device. The district felt the combination of the iPad Pro with the case/keyboard combination was the perfect fit for learning. Students and teachers will still be able to take advantage of all the learning tools that go with a tablet device while also being able to use the device like a laptop.
The school district has been planning financially for this upgrade pretty much since the purchase of the original equipment. In the fall of 2015, the school board issued $500,000 in working cash bonds, which resulted in NO additional cost to district taxpayers. The district was able to do this because it uses around $100,000 from the 1% Facilities Tax it receives annually to pay off a portion of the annual bond and interest payment (from the new high school addition). This then allows the district to levy for the working cash bonds with absolutely no increase in taxes. This has been a very innovative financial approach to being able to sustain the district and community commitment to providing our students with 21st century learning tools in the classroom.