Fulton County school board approves $4 million for more iPads

Fulton County Schools plans to buy more iPads for its youngest students to use in classrooms. KENT D. JOHNSON/ AJC FILE PHOTO
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Fulton County Schools plans to buy more iPads for its youngest students to use in classrooms. KENT D. JOHNSON/ AJC FILE PHOTO

Credit: Kent Johnson

Credit: Kent Johnson

Fulton County Schools plans to spend an additional $4 million to purchase more tablets, though officials want a deeper discussion of how much time young students spend plugged in.

The school board on Thursday agreed to more than double the spending limit on a roughly $3 million contract for Apple iPads and related accessories. The updated contract authorizes the district to spend a total of $7.2 million.

Officials said the tablets will be for prekindergarten, kindergarten and some first grade classes. The devices are for in-school use only, unlike computers assigned to students in older grades which can be taken home.

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Superintendent Mike Looney told board members at a meeting earlier this month that teachers report that small students find tablets easier to use than typing on laptops.

At that same meeting, board member Katie Reeves questioned how much time children should spend using technology.

”We’ve got this generation who got stuck on devices so much, and the video games are so really good at reeling them in,” she said. “It’s really doing a lot of damage to our students and what is our role? I think it’s time for us to have a larger discussion, particularly about the littles. I mean we need to really think about developmentally what is appropriate for those kids.”

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Looney said technology should be used when appropriate in the classroom but said he also is concerned about how much time students spend on computers and personal cell phones.

“I do think that we should have a discussion about how much is too much,” he said. “Technology is one of the tools that we use, but we should have a conversation about the amount of time that we’re using devices.”