A second grader uses a math learning app on an iPad at Haines School. (Emily Files)

A second grader uses a spelling app on an iPad at Haines School. (Emily Files)

The Haines School Board has moved closer to a final decision on what’s turned into a contentious issue: expanding laptops and iPads for students. School board members were mostly supportive of one-to-one devices in middle school and upper elementary grades.

Some Haines parents and school board members have balked at the idea of the youngest students having one-to-one access to iPads. But teachers for first and second grade and school administration say the current system of sharing iPads makes it difficult to use them in creative, spur-of-the-moment ways.

“As you look at a high impact classroom, the tech is a tool that helps you get that collaboration, the creativity, the communication, the creative thinking skills,” said Superintendent Ginger Jewell.

School board members talked about which grades really need one-to-one technology. Eventually, a proposal to buy enough technology for one-to-one in third grade and up seemed to garner partial agreement.

Here’s how the technology would shake out: Kindergarten through second grade would share two iPad carts. It wouldn’t be one-to-one, but it would give more access than those grades currently have. Third and fourth grade would have one iPad cart and one laptop cart to share. Fifth through eighth would have one-to-one laptops. High school already has one-to-one computers.

“I think it’s worthwhile to just go ahead and take the plunge,” said school board president Anne Marie Palmieri.

The rough cost for this technology expansion next school year is around $90,000. That includes new laptops for fourth and seventh grade and seven classroom SMARTboards. Routine high school and teacher computer purchases aren’t included in that.

At the end of the workshop, Palmieri asked members if they were on board with the plan to expand technology one-to-one from third grade up.

“I definitely feel like we’re focusing on those middle, elementary grades and giving them resources that the classes are asking for and I feel really good about that,” said Sara Chapell.

“There are a group of very committed people within the district that want and can move this forward and I think this is something that I can support,” said Mike Wilson.

“I totally support it fourth grade and up, I struggle with it in the lower grades,” said Tiffany Dewitt.

“I’m not on board. So I’ll decide on Tuesday how I’m voting,” said Sarah Swinton.

The board will make a final decision at next Tuesday’s meeting.