BY KARISSA MILLER
The Iredell-Statesville Schools Board of Education has delayed making a decision about whether to refresh 270 Apple MacBook laptops for students enrolled in the Collaborative College for Technology and Leadership.
The board voted 5-2 on Monday to hold off on a decision until June.
According to I-SS Chief Finance Officer Melissa Wike, administrators are proposing a sole source purchase using technology fees that CCTL school has collected along ESSER II funds for purchasing the devices. The total cost is approximately $325,118.
CCTL is the only I-SS school on a separate lease cycle of Apple devices because they were the first to receive theirs.
Chairman Martin Page and board member Charles Kelly voted against the motion.
“Mac is the best platform for student learning, in my opinion,” Page said.
Kelly argued that CCTL has performed exceptionally well and done so using Apple devices. He said that he didn’t want to change that for their particular school.
Board member Ken Poindexter said that purchasing Apple MacBook’s is a move in the wrong direction.
“I come out of the corporate world and if you go and talk to any companies around here, they just don’t use Macs,” Poindexter said. “The reason they don’t is because the cost.”
He said students are more likely to encounter PCs when they enter “the real world.”
“We are adding another layer on top of our students. When they get out of school, they now have to learn another operating system in order to start their new job,” he added.
Poindexter pointed out that as a school board member it’s his job to “not do what’s best for educators, but do what’s best for kids.”
Board member Sam Kennington said he supports the use of Apple MacBooks, but wants to delay a decision until June. He requested a full report on the total school purchase of computers.
“I would prefer waiting until June as opposed to doing one tonight, one next week and one next month,” Kennington said. “I want to be a unified district.”
CCTL Principal Teri Hutchens addressed the board about their concerns.
“We look at that all the time, at what we are preparing our students for, and our end users aren’t just careers — they are universities and colleges,” Hutchens said.
“I think we are making a big deal out of a device and an operating system when we are not asking the right question. Are our students prepared for multiple application suites? Our students are,” she added.
CCTL students become proficient in Apple products, Office 365, Gmail’s equivalent suite and Adobe, she said.
“We are a school of choice. We have to have a purposeful design. That purposeful design from the beginning has been technology. Students chose us for that Adobe suite of products,” Hutchens said.
Employers are now giving their choice of device now, she added.
According to Hutchens, at CCTL, a small team of teachers and I-SS Information Technology has handled their technology needs, including imaging their own devices, and other issues related to getting them ready for students to use.
She also reminded them of the years of training and professional development that each teacher has undergone for using Apple products.
“You are arguing for operating system agnosticism, is that correct,” asked school board member Doug Knight.
“I’m arguing for what we already know and what we love and for the same price point,” Hutchens said.
Knight also questioned why the district is providing devices when many students have their own devices at home.
Vice Chairman Todd Carver said he doesn’t have a strong opinion on the Mac vs. PC issue, but he wanted to hear the recommendation from the task force before a decision is made.
According to Superintendent Jeff James, there are still major delays with technology devices. In order to stay ahead of the game, the district needs to look at purchasing the devices sooner rather than later.