iPads for All Arab Junior High and High School Students

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ARAB, Ala. (WHNT) -- Three months after approving iPads for all teachers, the Arab Board of Education decided to get one for every student at the junior high and high schools.

Superintendent John Mullins there are currently about 1,450 students enrolled in those grades, but the school system will buy 1,650 iPads.  He said that will allow for growth and increased enrollment, and have extra on hand for what he called "technical difficulties."

Mullins said a lease agreement for the iPads will cost the school system about $400,000 a year and in three years they will own the devices.  The schools receive sales one and one-half cents in sales tax for every spent, and the superintendent said the half-cent gets put into a capital project account.   They will use that money to pay for the iPads.

The program is called C4ward, and is based on four C's.

"Connecting, communicating, collaborating, and creating," Mullins said.  "We've been behind some in technology.  Not only are we catching up but we're getting ahead."

It also allows some students who are less-privileged to catch up.  Superintendent Mullins said 35 percent of students in the Arab school system qualify for free or reduced lunches.

"This initiative will help them close the achievement gaps between their achievement and children who have been blessed with technology at home in the past," he said.

Teachers are excited about the technology, which will replace many textbooks.

Arab's technology coordinator, Michael Fowlkes, said the biggest challenge will be preparing an infrastructure for wireless access points that can support all the devices.

"It's going to be a huge undertaking but we feel as a district it's the correct way to go with technology, and that is to implement a 1-to-1 initiative," Fowlkes said.  "Not only do we have students be consumers of information but we have them be creators of information."

Superintendent Mullins said there will be a learning curve for teachers and students.

"We're going to be patient and we're going to go about this in a reasonable rate," he said.

"We would not be doing this if we did not think this would change instruction for the better and it opens up a world of resources."

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