BEND, Ore. - Textbooks are old school -- iPads are the future for five Bend and La Pine schools.
"We struggle to keep current, relevant, rigorous content in front of our students," Shay Mikalson, the district's executive director of curriculum and instructional technology,said Thursday.
By arming students with iPads, the district hopes to change that.
This fall, a pilot program kicks off allowing students at Juniper, High Lakes and Rosland elementary, and Summit and Mountain View high to have 24/7 access to school-issued iPads.
About 2,400 students from third to 12th grades will take part. It will cost about $1.25 per student, per day.
"We're trying to spend money that was spent traditionally in a new way that we think will have a bigger impact for our kids," Mikalson said.
The money saved on textbooks and other paper-related supplies is expected to cover the cost of the iPads, support and programs.
There are three major goals: allowing teachers to instruct more effectively, get students more engaged in learning, and give students equal platforms.
"They're able to take it (learning) to that next level, that higher-level thinking," said Rosland Elementary Principal Rochelle Williams.
It's a level some might not have access to at home.
"Our school is 83 percent free and reduced lunch," Williams said. "It levels the playing field and allows them to have the same opportunities."
Expanded opportunities also could mean a greater risk for distraction.
"Some of the teachers are nervous, Williams said. "You know, it's another thing to manage."
Williams also noted that most of the teachers elected to apply for the pilot program.
NewsChannel 21 spoke to a parent who said she could both the benefits and drawbacks of the new program.
"Kids are prone to distraction, so it's something to think about," said Bend resident Madelyn Driver.
Driver's son will start kindergarten at Juniper Elementary this fall. She wants Tristan exposed to computer skills and technology, but hopes old-fashioned learning won't be sacrificed.
"I want to make sure he's still encouraged to go outside and see the sun and look at birds and run on grass and write with a pencil," Driver said.
District officials said parents shouldn't expect their kids to come home with iPads until October.
If students lose or damage the iPads, Mikalson says like textbooks, students and parents will be responsible for the devices when they are in the students' possession.
He also said funding for replacements is included in the budget.
If you would like to learn more about the project visit http://www.bend.k12.or.us/education/components/scrapbook/default.php?sectiondetailid=4801.