RSF School District makes move to iPads

RANCHO SANTA FE — The Rancho Santa Fe School District board approved replacing its Chromebooks with iPads next year. Including older iPad model trade-ins currently being used at the school and other offsets, the proposal cost of 820 new iPads comes in at a $352,174 price tag.

Technology Director Ben Holbert presented the information to the school board and Superintendent David Jaffe.

“I can’t believe we’re at year six providing each student at certain grades with a device to be used both at home and at school,” Holbert said. “It’s been a big challenge, and it’s been a lot of fun as well. When I first started doing this, I never imagined we would be providing a student with a device, but once we started doing it, I can really see why we do it.” 

The divvied breakdown of 820 devices will go to kindergarten through fifth-grade students, sixth through eighth-grade students, staff, kindergarten through fourth-grade science, special education, intervention, mobile cart and spares.   

Apple will also offer financing options.   

According to Holbert, in 2012 the school district originally purchased iPads for sixth to eighth grades. In 2015, the decision was made to supply Chromebooks instead to those in fifth to eighth grades. 

Holbert explained that the decision behind switching to Chromebooks in 2015/2016 was based on a few things, including money.

“At the time, Apple products had tripled the original cost and they were a much heavier management burden on the school,” he said.

Holbert said they also received positive Chromebooks feedback at the time from the English Language Arts teachers.

“The volume of writing increased due to access, they believed, to a full keyboard on the device with students,” he said. “Chromebooks are much easier to manage and run, much lighter in terms of software and processing demands.”

Holbert also pointed out at that time, the initial cost of Chromebooks was roughly a third compared to iPads, and it also offered a great educational platform that was stable — students could be on their device anywhere and have access to their files.

“I think that was sort of a slam dunk,” he said.

The drawbacks, however, were an inferior touchscreen which would make hand annotation almost impossible, he explained. In Holbert’s opinion, the multimedia was also better on iPads. 

“So, we took a second look at the iPad,” Holbert said. “Apple lost a significant market share over to Chrome the last few years, and they responded. They made management much more reasonable.”

To address a keyboard, Holbert cited how Apple partnered with Logitech so keyboards pair with iPads.

Holbert said that the iPads they bought in the first two years were still running, which was really a testament to the reliability factor.  While they wouldn’t upgrade to the current operating system, they were still in working order.

Holbert called the iPad chosen for the district a high-performing device priced at only $294.

During the presentation, Rancho Santa Fe School District President Todd Frank shared that since the switch to Chromebooks, the price of iPads had dropped significantly. 

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