Lake Co. school leaders to decide to buy iPads or renovate school

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LAKE COUNTY, Fla. —

Lake County school leaders face a difficult decision: spend its dwindling money to update old schools or for new technology for the entire district.

WFTV's Berndt Petersen attended a special meeting on Monday.

The majority isn't ready to buy all those iPads when very old schools, like 58-year-old Eustis Heights, need major repairs.

Eustis Heights Elementary School has seen better days. It was built in 1954. It's not the county's only old school.

At Monday's meeting board members heard what is very 'expensive' news.

"In our elementary schools we have a little over 30 percent of our schools that are over 40 years of age from their original construction date," said John Davis, of Lake County schools.

It will cost $16 million to renovate Eustis Heights. In a split vote last week, the board approved the spending but one member believes there's a better way.

"We can spend it Eustis Heights, one school, or we can do the whole district -- 40,000 kids," said Jim Miller, Lake County School Board member.

With 40,000 iPads, Miller said he believes hi-tech is the path to better grades. Miller said it's already working at Lake Minneola High School, the district's iPad pilot program.

Miller said renovations on older schools should be delayed so the small computers can be put in every student's hands.

Every county school is scheduled to be Wi-Fi ready by the end of the year.

"So we have very affordable Wi-Fi. The only thing missing is the devices. And we can spend $16 million on Eustis Heights or $16 millioin on iPads for everyone. I'm not saying all at once, but in two years we would be an iPad district," said Miller.

Miller said he's not for ignoring renovations at the school, just postponing them so the district can buy every student an iPad.