The Joplin R-8 Board of Education is expected to approve the rest of the funding for IPads for eighth graders when it meets at 7 p.m. today.
The total cost of the IPads will be $299,475, according to documents prepared for tonight's board meeting.
The cost covers 625 IPad 4 devices, but it will grow to more than $300,000 thanks to another purchase scheduled to be approved by the board tonight. "Due to implementation of eighth grade Project RED 1:1," the document prepared by the district's technology director Klista Rader says, "devices would need to be equipped with protective accessories to safeguard against daily wear and tear. The Shock Drop cases will protect against major damage."
The cost of the cases is $20,575, according to the document and will be paid for out of the district's technology department capital outlay funds for the 2013-2014 school year.
The Project RED Mrs. Rader is referring to is an effort sponsored by businesses such as Intel, Hewlett-Packard, SMART (maker of SMART Boards) and the Pearson Foundation (the company that has been selected to create standardized tests for Missouri and also sells a comprehensive package of test preparatory materials, similar to McGraw-Hill's Acuity tests, which have been used in the Joplin R-8 School District for the past several years.
In addition to the IPads for students at East, North, and South middle schools, the board will be asked to approve spending $88,598 for Epson Brightlink Interactive Projectors for Irving Elementary, according to the documents for tonight's meeting.
This will pay for 43 interactive projects and five non-interactive projectors, as well as cables and mounting structures.
These devices will "provide more functionality, allow for multiple-touch points, and will act with multiple types of software," the documents indicate, ending with an educational buzzword smorgasbord saying this will "allow for more collaboration, visualization, and a more engaging classroom."
The cost will be paid for out of the Irving Elementary bond issue funds for 2013-2014.
The big brother aspect of the district's ever-increasing use of technology is spelled out thoroughly in Mrs. Rader's request (and these requests are also signed off on by Superintendent C. J. Huff) for $19,200 for a "Systems Progression Tool," a device that, from its description, seems designed to make sure that teachers are using all of the expensive gadgets being placed in the classrooms and not doing anything out of line like devising lesson plans that do not include technology.
The Systems Progression Tool is described in this way:
It will "store all district assessment information, such as classroom walk throughs (principal evaluations of teachers), implementation look fors and progress monitors." It will be "used as an app on mobile devices for administrators and leaders (while the document does not specify who leaders are, it would be safe to assume these are the TLCs, teaching and learning coaches that have been placed in the schools). This tool will provide specific data on specific programs and implementations."
Mrs. Rader's notes on the devices concludes, "With the original creation of this tool, leaders will be able to create their own assessments to check and monitor implementations or for teachers to self-evaluate."
Essentially, though it is not spelled out in the notes, this gives an administration which has already shown a tendency for micromanaging immediate feedback on what is being done in every classroom in the district.