Jersey Shore removes iPads from budget

JERSEY SHORE — The Jersey Shore Area School Board voted unanimously to remove the iPad 1:1 initiative from kindergarten to second grade from the 2018-19 budget at its meeting on Monday.

This was one of the issues discussed in the board’s last work session on Feb. 28 where it discussed the administration’s 12 options to cut programs in order to fight the district’s deficit of $1.8 million.

“K-2 is owned locally by the district … K-2 is purchased by the district using local funds. They were the initial, very first purchase of the district and the very first placement by the district of the iPads,” said Ben Enders, business manager.

The kindergarten to second-grade iPads are iPad minis.

At the previous session, Patrick McCormick, district network/information system manager, said there were three leases at the district.

“There’s one at the high school, and there’s two at the middle school covering grades seven and eight with one covering grade six and there’s one covering grades two to five,” he said. “The plan was to eliminate the minis and renew the lease, which would be actually less … When a decision was made to cut grade two out of the mix, we would eliminate that grade level, keep the minis and that would yield that $53,000 savings.”

Mary Thomas, board member, said during the previous work session that she thought the iPads were too much for the students.

“From my perspective, there needs to be some basics without this … I’m OK not to have this at all, but that’s me personally,” she said.

Dr. Jill Wenrich, superintendent, said they would keep the existing iPads for grades kindergarten to second grade, they would not be updated, and when they no longer work, they will no longer work without being renewed.

“If we don’t find other places to cut the money … where are the cuts going to come? It’s going to be the teacher standing in front of the students. I’d rather see the iPads go than the teachers,” said Dr. John Pecchia, board member, at the February work session.

During public comment at Monday’s meeting, multiple people spoke in favor of getting rid of the iPads.

“The iPads have been a huge mistake. Whole lives have been disturbed by this technology, which was and is not needed … Get rid of all the iPads,” said one attendee.

In other business, the board voted unanimously to approve a donation of baseball team uniforms from the baseball booster club and a donation of softball team uniforms from the softball booster club.

Voting yes were members Thomas, Pecchia, Merrill Sweitzer, Craig Allen, Karen Stover, Michelle Stemler and Harry Brungard. Members Christopher Fravel and Kelley Wasson were absent.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 19 at the Jersey Shore Area School District Administration Building, 175 A and P Drive.