It’s a note-taking device, dictionary, camera and textbook rolled into one.
For the nearly 230 students at Griffin Middle School, the iPad has become an essential school supply.
“I’d say we use them for almost every class,” said eighth-grader Hailey Winston, 13.
The Griffin School District, a K-8 district in the Steamboat Island area of Thurston County, plans to expand its “one-to-one” electronic device program to all of its 610 students if voters approve its School Safety, Technology and Capital Improvements levy measure on the Nov. 3 ballot.
The special levy would raise $1.1 million for the district over two years at a rate of about 58 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. The owner of a $250,000 home would pay about $145.25 annually for two years, according to Woods.
The levy measure also would raise money for safety upgrades, including installation of security cameras throughout the school campus, he said.
“It’s really the driver behind the levy measure,” Woods said.
Right now, the district doesn’t have cameras at its two schools, which are linked by a breezeway.
“This campus is kind of open, so the camera system would allow us to have vision 360 degrees,” Woods said.
The district also wants to upgrade its alarm system, expand use of automatic door locks, secure entries, and purchase mobile response technology that would be used during a lockdown or school emergency, he said.
“We’ve got some systemss in place, but we don’t feel they’re adequate to provide the safety and security we want,” Woods said.
But the levy also would fund the purchase of technology for students.
Last year, the district became one of the first in the region to provide iPads for all of its middle school students. “If approved, this measure would help us implement our one-to-one for the elementary grades,” said Greg Woods, superintendent and principal of Griffin School.
The devices for middle schoolers were paid for with levy dollars, grants and donations, and cost about $307,500, according to Melody Simmons, finance and human resources administrator for the district.
Woods said the middle schoolers have taken good care of the devices, which are checked out on a daily basis. He also said the wireless devices have enhanced learning.
“It’s definitely changed the way teachers are teaching and kids are learning,” Woods said. “…It’s kind of like a textbook, except there’s a whole lot more information in them. Some teachers use them constantly.”
Levy dollars also would pay for software licensing fees, online applications and staff training that’s related to technology, according to a fact sheet from the district.
Some of the money also would end up at Olympia’s Capital High School. Because Griffin doesn’t have a high school, it’s required to pay for a portion of the capital and technological improvements that are made at Capital High, where Griffin students attend. Woods said levy dollars would help pay that bill from the Olympia School District, which was $303,628 for the 2013-14 school year and $350,000 for 2014-15.