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Purchase payments for iPad expected to decrease in Monroe Township

By MADELEINE MACCAR
Correspondant

MONROE TOWNSHIP – When the Monroe Township School District Board of Education convened at Monroe Township High School on July 21, board members, administrators, staff members, students, parents and other community members were eager to weigh in on all manner of issues during a meeting that lasted well past 11 p.m.

Among the topics discussed was a change in insurance payments for a student’s iPad, indicating that parents’ purchase payments would decrease because the school district’s
negotiations with Apple yielded lower prices.

Business Administrator and Board Secretary Michael Gorski explained that parents previously paid annual, separate insurance fees; now, there would be no separate insurance cost.

The cost is instead absorbed into the initial $85 purchase of an iPad, which Gorski said “has
steadily dropped over time.”

The extra cost’s elimination comes on the heels of a precipitous decline in damaged devices.

But the issue now, Gorski warned, is passing that cost on to taxpayers.

“By reducing the fee … to $85 one-time payments on the initial deployment of the iPads,
the district will not be collecting about $408,000 in total,” he said. “That (deficit) is now
going to be raised through the tax levy and have to fit into the (tax levy) cap.”

“It’s a benefit, certainly, to students and parents. I just wanted to disclose that it will present a challenge with the many others we will face together in future years,” Gorski said.

Those not involved in the board’s Finance Committee inquired about the discussions
surrounding and advising the change.

Committee member Kathleen Belko clarified that there were no additional conversations around it, as the committee was “actually very pleased” with the proposal from its outset.

“We felt this was a very good compromise,” Belko said, noting that anyone with more
than two children in the school district and whose device costs reached the $170 limit were
burdened by previous annual costs.

The high school has received complaints about the annual insurance costs, further
prompting the Finance Committee to support the change.

Board members discussed how the technology refresh that puts new devices in students’
hands every three years means one class would wind up paying for two device cycles.

They also raised concerns about the possibility of programs being cut to further fill a consequential revenue deficit following the elimination of two-thirds of a once-steady
revenue stream.

“The district budget is and has been at cap for the last few years,” Gorski said. “If we are
still at cap, [there could be] cuts in something that may have made it in the draft
budget.”

The business administrator recognized there “was a lot of opposition to the initiative
from the beginning because of the cost,” and explained how the final proposal evolved
as state aid and parental payments were further discussed and explored.

The board’s next meeting will be Aug. 18 at Monroe Township High School, where the
conversation is expected to continue.

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