NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – The School Department’s summer purchase of 45 iPads has members of the Northbridge School Committee confused and irritated.
“Five for teacher evaluations were the only iPads we discussed buying,’’ said School Committee member Michael LeBrasseur at a meeting Tuesday night.
“If you’re going to purchase 50 iPads, there should be a plan. Was there a plan?’’ he asked.
Kadion Phillips, director of educational technology, said most of the iPads, 20 for the special education department and 20 for the Balmer After School Enrichment (BASE) program, have not yet been distributed.
“We wanted to get a good management system in place before we started deploying them,’’ Phillips said. That system will be with an Apple server, also purchased this summer. He’ll be able to remotely access each iPad and keep track of who has them.
Interim School Superintendent Nancy Spitulnik said school principals have the authority to make purchases, such as iPads.
She said the iPads for special education were needed. Many individual education programs (IEPs) now require the applications available through the technology, she said. And the technology helps to engage the after-school students at Balmer.
LeBrasseur said he understands the need for technology, but believes such purchases should be discussed by the committee.
“It doesn’t look like there was a process and I’m concerned about it, to be perfectly honest,’’ he said. That same concern was expressed by Chair Michael McGrath and member Karen Kittredge.
Spitulnik said the committee does have to have a discussion about technology. The district isn’t ready to follow the path of neighboring schools, which have adopted a one computer, one student policy, she said.
“We have not had those discussions and we need to,’’ she said.