HomeEB SentinelEB Sentinel NewsBoard approves $30 annual iPad fee for Monroe Township High School students

Board approves $30 annual iPad fee for Monroe Township High School students

The financial burden of student technology has been discussed across two BOE meetings

By Madeleine Maccar

Correspondent 

A controversial proposal to fund Monroe Township High School students’ devices with taxpayer money that was introduced last month was resolved at the Monroe Township School District Board of Education Aug. 18 meeting in the Monroe Township High School’s media center.

The high school’s 1:1 initiative regarding students’ iPads and the accompanying fees were on the evening’s agenda, a continuation of the conversation that began with the BOE’s July 21 meeting proposing a change in how students’ iPads are paid for.

The $85 purchase fee typically shouldered by parents or guardians would, as the proposal posits, be funded by taxpayers instead.

The board’s Finance Committee had agreed upon the proposal after its members were presented with two options: one being a structured payment of $30 per iPad each year for the three years of its usage, while the other was the upfront payment.

Monroe Township High School Principal Dr. Kevin Higgins provided further background. A suggested switch in payment policy intended to instill more fairness and balance in paying for the devices, as upperclassmen would be paying the same flat fee as a student using a device for all three years of its lifespan would. The one-time $85 cost is a decrease in what students’ families previously paid, reflecting a greatly diminished need for insurance to repair broken devices.

Higgins had reached out to neighboring high schools’ principals to aid in crafting potential solutions, asking for their insights and procedures in both paying for the devices themselves and establishing protocol for any necessary repairs, noting that some made insurance optional.

“My recommendation is that we have to get the iPads into the hands of our students as soon as possible,” Higgins said, noting that his input is limited in terms of what he can suggest to the board but stressing the importance of distributing academic materials as the school year’s beginning draws close.

The principal continued, “The importance to me is that we make a decision, and we can get the information out to parents and we can get the iPads into the hands of our students. That would be my recommendation. … If we are to charge, it should be a scheduled charge so no one is at a loss at far as the seniors would be paying for the full price when they’re only using the new device for a year.”

Given the ongoing conversation around the proposed measure and where the financial burden should lie, the Finance Committee proposed a resolution revisiting the topic and to adopt an annual charge of $30 on all devices every year.

Business Administrator/Board Secretary Michael Gorski asked if the schedule of incidental damages upon the devices’ return would still be applicable, like cracked screens yielding a parental charge of about $255 plus shipping costs. The board confirmed that it would be, so as to relieve the district of shouldering any additional repair costs.

He also explained that it would be hard to determine the annual impact a new payment measure would have on the district budget.

“We’ve never had incidental charges reflect the actual cost of the schedule,” Gorski said. “And I’m hearing from [Director of Information Systems] Mr. [Eliot] Feldman that there are a lot of units that are returned that are missing cords, have Dollar Store cords instead of the Apple (ones) so we can’t accept that back, have something wrong with the case and things like that. That’s a significant dollar amount associated with that that really cannot be predicted.”

Gorski added that this isn’t a dire fiscal concern yet, since the 1:1 balance sheet has a reserve account that would offset a revenue shortfall.

Council President Michele Arminio observed that the district has a three-year window to review any new measure’s data and revisit the best way to distribute the financial burden of student technology.

The board approved the measure authorizing a $30 yearly charge on each high school students’ iPad.

A video recording of the meeting will be available at monroetv.viebit.com.

The board will hold a special meeting Aug. 30. Its next regular meeting will be Sept. 21.

Visit monroe.k12.nj.us for more information.

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