Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools will soon receive district-wide equipment upgrades for its teachers after the board voted to buy 800 MacBook Air laptops for about $900,000 at its regular meeting Monday.
The move was made as part of various changes weighed this week and in March to emphasize personalized learning. The board unanimously approved the action Monday with little discussion.
District Director of Technology Marcus Milazzo said educators favor mobile learning devices such as tablets and laptops because they’re portable and flexible. For example, teachers can move about the room more easily and individually teach small groups.
“(Teachers) want more instructional tools at all grade levels,” he said. “That’s nothing new. It’s just that with more and more innovation that comes out, we want the learning tools to be able to run it.”
In the modern classroom, it’s difficult to effectively teach and remain stationary, Milazzo said.
“You want to get away from (your desk),” he said. “Desktops are great. And they’re tied to our infrastructure. But we’re looking at different ways to deliver instruction.”
Teachers are asking for more streamlined ways to keep students on track as they use the 9,300 tablets for class each day.
Last year the district upgraded its WiFi access points. About a decade ago, the district overhauled its technology infrastructure. The laptop purchase is the latest addition to its long-term technology plan.
“We try to stay current with our tech,” Milazzo said. “Our life cycle (for devices) is usually five to six years, which is good. We try to stay true to that life cycle.”
Legacy iPads, or the 1,400 iPad 4 devices currently serving the district, are reaching the end of their upgradeable life, he added.
The device costs would total $917,616 from the general fund. The district can purchase at least some of them at the end of their lease; Milazzo said he anticipates the district will purchase many or all the them.
The district will roll out its new laptops after July 1.