Green Forest schools spend $140K on iPads for students
GREEN FOREST -- School Board members voted to spend more than $140,000 on iPads and shatter-proof window tinting at a meeting Monday night.
Green Forest Superintendent Matt Summers said purchasing the iPads was a "proactive" move meant to prepare the district for coming changes.
The Arkansas Department of Education will begin requiring districts to complete standardized tests via the Internet in 2015, Summers said, and the state has recommended schools purchase one device for every two students.
Monday's vote still falls short of that recommendation -- providing only 270 devices, or 30 for each grade level from kindergarten to eighth.
Summers said board members would consider purchasing additional units -- for high school students, among others -- if extra funds are available when the district closes out its budget in June.
In addition to testing, Summers said the iPads would be used for day-to-day classroom instruction. Teachers have already begun experimenting with 90 iPads purchased at the end of last year -- at a cost of approximately $50,000.
"We wanted to put it in our teachers' hands (first)," Summers said, in the hope that they could learn the technology early and later help students do the same.
The devices purchased Monday were second generation iPads, which included 16 Gigabytes of memory and a two-year warranty. They were purchased for $132,934.50 from Apple, Inc.
According to information the superintendent provided to board members, no other companies were solicited for bids because "only one company (could) furnish the items."
Also Monday, board members approved spending nearly $10,000 on shatter-proof window film.
The film, purchased through American Window Tinting, of Fayetteville, will be installed on building entrances across campus.
Summers said the company had been pitching its product to schools throughout the region since a gunman killed 20 students and six adults at a Newtown, Conn. elementary school in December.
The product's primary purpose is to provide additional security, Summers said. However, he added the film would also decrease utility costs by better insulating buildings.
The superintendent said the purchase was one element of an effort to improve school security in the wake of the Newtown massacre.
Another element -- the hiring of a second school resource officer -- is also moving forward, though Summers said Monday this would not happen until next year. He did not say how the additional officer would be funded.
In other news, the District will soon begin accepting bids for a project to improve drainage and install more sidewalks at Tiger Stadium.
Summers said the initial construction of the stadium had left a number of "loose ends," in addition to the water and sidewalk problems, which will also be remedied.
The work will cost an estimated $50,000 to $70,000, Summers said, and should be completed by the second week in April, in time for the First National Bank Senior High Track Meet on May 2.
Bids will be opened at 2 p.m. on Mar. 5, in the Alumni Center.
In other business, board members:
* Renewed the board's liability insurance. The annual premium for the policy, purchased from Bancorp South Insurance Services through the Arkansas School Board Association, is $5,916.
* Renewed the District's contract with Charles Nichols, of the Family Psychological Center, to provide special education services for Green Forest schools on an as-needed basis during this school year.
* Approved last year's legislative audit.
* Approved a request by middle and high school choir students to sell cookie dough to raise money for group activities.
*Approved a request by the Future Business Leaders of America to solicit donations for the Arkansas Children's Hospital.
* Approved a request by the District lunch ladies to sell students sunglasses branded with the school logo. Proceeds will go toward scholarships.
*Approved two fundraiser requests by the Green Forest Education Foundation. The foundation will sell books featuring photos of every graduating class since 1898. The foundation will also host a trivia night on Mar. 14. There will be a $10 entry fee for the event, with participants asked to bring a side dish. The proceeds of both fundraisers will go toward scholarships for area students.
The School Board will meet again at 5 p.m. on Mar. 26, in the Alumni Building on the Green Forest School campus. The meeting was rescheduled from its normal time because of Spring Break. For more information, call 870-438-5201.