Grant provides iPads, software and more

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

BEAVERCREEK — More than 5,000 iPads will be in the hands of students from kindergarten through eighth grade by the beginning of the 2014-15 school year, following the receipt of a state grant.

Beavercreek schools are among 150 Ohio districts that will receive one of 24 grants to aid students through the use of technology from the state's Straight A Fund.

Using $3.8 million in grant money, the district will purchase 5,200 iPads for teaching math and language arts, according to Director of Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Susan Hayward, as well as software and protective cases for the iPads.

The district will be using online assessment software from Northwest Evaluation Association Math for mathematics and language arts.

That information will be uploaded to eSpark, which will create individual learning quests, Hayward said. The quest support enrichment remediation and supports their individual growth.

Students who need help will also have the opportunity to take the iPads home and use over the summer, Hayward said.

The iPads are projected to have a “four to five” year lifespan, which will he helped along with the purchase of protective cases from Otterbox, Hayward said.

The IPads are projected to cost $2.6 million and will be purchased directly from Apple using grant money, Hayward said.

Cases are anticipated to cost $261,000.

The eSpark software will cost $570,000 and will include the purchase of apps, so the district will own those, she said.

Beavercreek City Schools were one of two stand-alone school districts to receive the grant, from the state's Straight A Fund. The other school district was Garfield Heights in suburban Cleveland.

Other grant winners were consortiums of school districts or individual schools within districts.

In the first round of applications for this Straight A grant, approximately 1,500 applications were received, according to Superintendent Bill McGlothlin.

Those were winnowed down to 650, then 400 and finally awarded to the final 24 projects within the state of Ohio.

“This was an extremely rigorous and competitive grant,” he said.

Another district with a similar district did not receive the grant, school officials said.

The goal of the grant was to bring a creative and innovative project, which showed innovation, value to district and student and lasting impact, according to Hayward.

“We focused on student achievement and sharing greater resources,” Hayward said. “Instinctively I knew that would be well received, because that's our goal as educators, to focus on student achievement.”

The pilot program will begin at Parkwood Elementary and Ankeney Middle Schools in January and February, according to Superintendent Dr. Bill McGlothlin, will full implementation beginning in September 2014.

The pilot program will include 140 students at Akeney Middle School and approximately 150 students at Parkwood.

Beavercreek will receive $3.8 million from the state's Straight A Fund, which will be used to purchase iPads for every K-8 student, along with instructional software that assesses each student's knowledge base and measures their achievement in mathematics and English Language Arts.

“We are thrilled that our project was selected for this grant, and believe that the program we outlined will improve individual growth and achievement among all of our kindergarten through eighth grade students,” said William McGlothlin, Ed.D., Beavercreek Schools' superintendent. “When combined with classroom instruction and personalized learning tools, this program will support our students in a way that promotes their engagement and continual growth, blending technology with 21st century learning skills.”

According to school officials, there was tremendous competition for these grants.

“This first round of Straight A Fund grant opportunities has started the process of re-examining the ways that we educate the boys and girls of Ohio,” said Dr. Richard A. Ross, superintendent of public instruction for the Ohio Department of Education. “We will look to the winning proposals for ideas to reduce costs and transform learning in our state.”

The $250 million Straight A Fund was created in the new state budget signed this summer by Gov. John Kasich, and is part of a $1.6 billion increase in state education funding over the next two years.

The grants include broad-based plans to increase student access to high-tech manufacturing skills, expand post-secondary class offerings in Appalachia and expand the use of digital technology in classrooms, according to the Ohio Department of Education.

Grant applications were first assessed to determine their fiscal sustainability, and were then evaluated on the basis of innovation, value, and lasting impact.

Grant advisors, who recommended the highest quality applications to the Straight A Fund Governing Board, then reviewed applications that met all of these criteria. This Board made the final recommendations for funding.