School system says move to iPads saves money, raises grades



TAVARES, Fla. - New numbers show that a plan to use iPads instead of textbooks appears to be working.

The Lake County School District County made the move at the beginning of the school year, in an effort to save money.

By dismissal time at Lake Minneola High School most of the students had safely packed away their iPads.

"I'm very careful with mine.  I'm very protective, actually," said student Gabe Richards, referring to his iPad.

At the beginning of the school year, the district spent $700,000 on 1700 iPads.

They signed out more than 1,200 of the devices to students at Lake Minneola High. 

Ten months later, 23 were reported as lost, stolen or damaged. 

"It's a good starting point for us.  We know we can do better.  But for the first year of this program, we're pleased with the results," said Chris Patton of the Lake County School District.

But with a cost of $400 per unit, officials said the missing or broken iPads adds up to somewhere between $7,000 and $9,000.

That high cost forced the school district to take a hard line with students and their parents. If a student loses or breaks an iPad, they buy it.

"My friend Kendra, she lost hers.  I think it got stolen.  Her mom had to pay back every month.  A payment plan," said student Dayshani Chomeaux.

Administrators said it costs more to replace missing textbooks. 

At Mount Dora High School parents and students were on the hook for $19,000 worth of books this year. 

Students at Lake Minneola give the iPads high marks.

"I love it much better than the books.  It's the only book I carry now.  It's very expensive, but it allows you to take care of it more.  I'd rather have this than a whole bunch of heavy textbooks any day," said Chomeaux.

Administrators said the iPads are leading to academic gains at the school.

They said students are more organized in class.

And they said they believe that results in better grades and FCAT scores.