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Willmar, Minn., providing iPads for all high school students this fall

WILLMAR -- The Willmar School District will be providing Apple iPad tablet computers for all students in grades 9-12, beginning in the fall.

The iPads will belong to the school district but will be the students' to use for the entire school year.

According to a report to the Willmar School Board from High School Principal Paul Schmitz, providing 1-to-1 iPads for the school's 1,200-plus students was an educational decision and an economic one.

The original plan for expanding the program beyond the juniors and seniors was to purchase individual iPads for the 10th-graders. For the classes offered to ninth-graders, the district had planned to purchase more of the iPad carts -- a set of the tablet computers used only in the classroom.

After one year with juniors and seniors having individual iPads, students and teachers generally feel that the tablets have had a positive effect on learning, Schmitz told the board.

And school officials realized that providing carts for ninth-grade classrooms might have left the school with more iPads than students. That would be financially costly and inefficient, so they decided to go ahead with providing individual iPads for all students.

Money for the iPads comes from a community fundraising campaign that raised more than $300,000 for the tablets, which cost about $500 apiece. The school district has used its annual capital improvement budget to match the community funding. The capital budget is available for maintenance or equipment purchases and may not be used for general operating expenses.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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