Iberville students get Apple laptop computers
WHITE CASTLE — Textbooks won’t be the only items students in the Iberville Parish School District will be receiving during the first few weeks of school this year. More than 2,000 sixth- through 12-graders are getting Apple Macbook Pro laptops, said School Superintendent Ed Cancienne.
Cancienne describes the laptop distribution as a “critical” stage of the district’s “1+1 Initiative,” which pairs students with portable computers for the district’s technology-enriched curriculum.
The laptop initiative was introduced two years ago at the district’s two math, science and art magnet academies, he said.
“We used the academies as pilot programs,” Cancienne said. “Now we’re rolling it out for all our students.”
Cancienne said laptop computers are giving teachers the ability to integrate Web-based programs and exercises into their daily lesson plans.
The portable computers also provide students the opportunity to reinforce teacher instruction at home through downloadable homework and practice lessons, he added.
Anissa Ned, whose son is a sixth-grader at Dorseyville Elementary, called the laptop rollout “awesome” and is hoping the 1+1 Initiative will teach her son, Eddie, how to use a computer as a research tool instead of as a fancy toy for entertainment.
“They’re going to need them because everything we do nowadays is turning to technology,” Ned said Wednesday afternoon at the parent-child orientation for the laptop rollout at Dorseyville.
“They are so connected to technology. (Eddie) knows how to use an iPhone and I don’t.”
Joan Governor, who attended Wednesday’s orientation with granddaughter Ariel Mellion, said her granddaughter is “looking forward to it. I’m really hoping it will help her as far as getting her lessons and focusing.”
Governor added that she wished laptops would have been around when she was student “a long time ago.”
Parents will have to pay the district a mandatory $40 fee to cover insurance and leasing costs for each laptop assigned to their child, school district officials said.
The district paid $1,015 for each computer, said Chief Financial Officer Jolain Landry.
Funding for the district’s technology program was established through a 2008 voter approved 31-mill school improvement property tax, Landry said.
A portion of the $10.5 million the property tax generates annually was used for technology while the rest was allocated for infrastructure and debt service, she said.
The district’s technology efforts also receive a steady stream of funding through a 1 percent sales tax for academic enhancement that generates approximately $2 million per year, Landry said.
The new laptops will be distributed to students during the first three weeks of school.
Cancienne said every sixth through 12th grade student will be assigned a laptop computer for the school year, but only the district’s seventh- through 12th-graders will be allowed to take theirs home.
Cancienne said laptops also will be available to the district’s kindergarten through fifth-grade students, but only for classroom use.
The computers come equipped with software filters that are compliant with the Child Internet Protection Act, said Technology Coordinator Richard Ellis.
Ellis said the CIPA filters will block students from logging onto social media networking sites like Facebook and Twitter through the district’s computer network.
Ellis added the district will utilize a $3.2 million grant to pay for the necessary bandwidth upgrades the network needs to support the additional computer activity from the students.