St. Paul schools pick iPads over PCs for students

Computer classroom at LEAP
Students use computers at St. Paul's LEAP, Limited English Achievement Program, High School, in this 2013 file photo.
Amanda Snyder / MPR News 2013

The St. Paul school district is ending a deal with computer company Dell and will instead hand out iPads to students.

The district signed a $4.3 million contract with Dell in 2012 after voters approved a $9 million a year technology levy.

The plan was to create a new digital learning platform that would put everything from assignments, to grades to parent/teacher interactions online, a "one-stop shop," said Matt Mohs, St. Paul's chief academic officer.

After a year of working with Dell, however, district officials decided they weren't going to get the system they wanted and cancelled the contract without penalty.

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Now, the district is finishing up a deal with Apple to loan iPads to all 39,000 students in St. Paul over the next two school years. There's no price tag for that effort, yet.

In recent years, school districts across the state have begun loaning iPads to students. Among them is Farmington, which handed out iPads to all of its 7,000 students last year.

A sampling of Minnesota districts that give iPads to students:

• Farmington: The district gave all 7,000 students in K-12 iPads in the 2012-2103 school year.

• Rochester: The district wants to hand out iPads to its 17,000 students over the next few years. Almost 4,000 iPads were handed out this school year, but district officials are still working to find funding to get the technology to all students.

• Virginia - The district is in its third year of giving students in grades 6-12 an iPad.

• Watertown-Mayer - The district hands out iPads to all students in grades K-12.

• Wayzata - Students in classes K-3 share iPads in their classrooms. Students in grades 4-12 each receive their own iPad.

• Spring Lake Park - Students in grades K-12 share iPod Touches in their classrooms. 3rd graders get their own iPod touch. Students in grades 4-12 each get their own iPad.