You Paid for It: CCSD spends $1 million on iPads
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) - More than $1 million in just six months: That's what the Clark County School District has spent buying iPads, all at a time of massive budget cuts that will likely result in more than 1,800 layoffs, crowded classes, and students without enough basic supplies.
So is this technological luxury helping kids or killing budgets? You decide because you paid for it.
Much like the 'Angry Birds' in one of the most popular apps of all time, some taxpayers, teachers, and students are hopping mad over the Clark County School District's recent spending spree on iPads.
"I think it's irresponsible," says retired teacher Sharon Lea.
"If a student says this is not right, they should really just hear it out at least," says a high school student who asked not to be identified.
That student says he's speaking for fellow students at several schools.
Darcy Spears: They're outraged? They can't believe that this is happening?
"Outraged! Mad! Appalled!"
And now, they're questioning how the district found the iPad money.
"How is it that they are able to fund this and yet we are left without many necessities from the classroom to the restroom?" the student wonders.
Sharon Lea, who taught for 15 years, says, "I saw a consistent pattern of them spending millions of dollars on the latest gimmick, the latest fad. But yet, they would tell the teachers there wasn't money for paper, there wasn't money for crayons, pencils. And so teachers spent thousands of dollars of their own money buying those things."
Associate Superintendent Dr. Andre Denson agrees that the district has to supply basic needs but blames shortfalls on the budget.
"The budget situation dictates the kind of income that we get and it's been shorter every year. And it does affect the supplies that are available on campuses."
Schools across the nation are embracing Apple's iPad as the latest teaching tool. But at an average cost of $600 just for one, can CCSD afford the latest and greatest?
Though the school district showed Contact 13 one class using iPads at Wynn Elementary, we found many are in the hands of administrators. So we asked the district how many are for administrators, how many are for teachers, and where the funding comes from.
They answered with a mountain of documents.
For the month of time it took them to put it all together and send all the photocopies, they charged us more than $1,100 - or the price of two iPads.
We wondered why the Purchasing Department, with its own two iPads, couldn't pull up the info with a couple of key strokes. After all, there must be an app for that.
Instead, Contact 13 crunched the numbers and found that the district spent nearly $1.1 million on 1,859 iPads over the last six months.
And although there is $136,000 more on school district credit cards for purchases from Apple stores, because the information isn't centralized, the district couldn't tell us exactly what was bought.
"A lot of our iPads are purchased through grant money," Denson explains.
But most of the money, more than $800,000 of it, comes from the school district's general fund.
"We could go back to chalk boards and writing on the floor, if you will, but that's not appropriate education," says Denson. "We have to continue to progress along with supplying our students and staff with appropriate resources."
Sharon Lea says they should focus on using what they already have.
"When I left teaching, my wardrobe was full of perfectly wonderful educational materials that they would replace every year with the latest, greatest."
Of the 1,859 iPads bought since late last year, 574 were for district administrators and 1,285 were for schools.
Each school makes its own decision whether to buy iPads, how many they can afford, and who gets them.
Then there's the learning curve, as with any new technology.
"It's not a toy that we want to give a staff member and go ok, go figure out how to do this. So you have to be a knowledgeable teacher to use it in the classroom," says Denson.
The single biggest purchase was 125 iPads for administrative use.
While many schools have just one or two, Bracken Elementary has the most of any school with 111.
Darcy Spears: What do you use your iPad for?
"What do I use my iPad for?" Denson repeats with a chuckle. "The only thing I use my iPad for is what they call classroom walk-throughs."
He explains that this is like an evaluation. Contact 13 watched a principal do at Roundy Elementary.
Sharon Lea says in this economy, it's just plain irresponsible.
"They would always go to the legislature and say they were under-funded when, in reality, I think the taxpayers need to look at whether they're under-funded or not properly spending the money that the taxpayers give them."
"This is a luxury. This is all this is. The iPad is a technological luxury," says the high school student.
But it's also something the district says we can't afford to do without.
Darcy Spears: How do we look taxpayers in the eye and say this is the best use of your taxpayer dollars?
"I think you said it best Darcy, and I appreciate that," says Denson. "Because we have to do a great job of convincing and sharing with our community that their children, our students, are important and that we have to continue to provide them with the state-of-the-art technology to keep moving forward."
We want your feedback on this story. Please send an email to 13Investigates@KTNV.com to let us know how you feel about the fact that you paid for it.