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New tax = new TECH

City system to lease 426 devices for AES

Just 22 days after the county began collecting an additional half-cent sales tax for education, the Andalusia Board of Education agreed to make its first purchase funded by the tax.

The board on Monday approved a $60,000 lease with Apple that will put 426 iPads in Andalusia Elementary School, or approximately 10 per classroom. One month’s revenue from the new tax is expected to come close to funding the lease, Superintendent Ted Watson said.

Technology specialist Gary Odom explained that the larger iPads and laptops currently in use at AES will be moved to Andalusia High School and Andalusia Junior High School. At the elementary level, he said, students don’t do as much work that requires hard drives.

Odom said the teachers are pleased to have more devices per classroom, and have said that 10 devices will allow teachers to pair students in twos to work together.

Teachers’ iPads will be placed in cases with external keyboards, Odom said.

AES principal Alane Brunson said teachers are beyond excited about what they can do with more devices.

“The goal is to get to 1-to-1,” Watson said, meaning one electronic device for each student. “We’re not quite there yet.”

This week, Apple has a trainer in Andalusia to work with teachers on new apps than can be used to teach common standards, Odom said, adding that with the system’s current contracts, the trainer spends four weeks per year working here.

Odom said the new iPads will be delivered seven to 10 days after the order is placed, and he can have 100 per day ready to go into the classroom.

In other business, the board:

  • Approved an overnight field trip to Huntsville for fifth graders in the AES Talented and Gifted (TAG) program to participate in the Pathfinder Space Camp Program.
  • Approved an overnight field trip to Atlanta for third and fourth graders in the AES Talented and Gifted (TAG) program to participate a sleep-in at the Atlanta Aquarium. The trip also will include stops at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History and the CNN Center.