If the Santa Barbara Unified School District approves a pilot iPad program, students could be using the Apple tablets every day by March.

Many teachers are already using iPads in their classrooms, but Superintendent Dave Cash and technology director Todd Ryckman have proposed the one-to-one program for schoolwide student use.

The program would require iPads for every student in grades three through six at Adams, Franklin and Washington schools, and 11th-grade students at La Cuesta Continuation High School.

Families have the option of sending an iPad to school with their child, buying one through the district’s lease-to-own program, or using a district-owned device.

According to parent surveys of the four schools, most families prefer to purchase iPads through the district.

The choices are divided seemingly along socioeconomic lines. Far more Adams and Franklin families — 80 percent and 87 percent, respectively — want to purchase iPads through the district, while less than a third of families from Washington would buy one from the district. Adams and Franklin schools serve predominantly low-income neighborhoods, while Washington historically serves higher-income households.

Washington School Principal Anne Hubbard said some families changed their minds after a parent training, when they learned more about the program.

At a special meeting Dec. 17, Ryckman explained the specifics to the Board of Education, which has the final decision on funding the program.

Every iPad purchased by the district will be covered by insurance for three years, but families must pay to replace the device if it’s lost or stolen, Ryckman said.

Families who buy iPads will have to pay $708, with monthly payments of about $20 for the device, taxes and insurance. That’s less than a retail purchase, since the district buys in bulk, according to the district’s business services department.

Cash doesn’t expect many iPads to get stolen, since they can be “bricked” and made useless once they’re reported lost. The first thieves will be “ambassadors,” Cash said, because once it happens, the word will spread.

Ryckman said families won’t be able to refuse the responsibility of such an expensive device, just like they can’t refuse to use $150 textbooks.

District trustees will have to discuss that further, because some parents will “absolutely reject the concept,” board president Kate Parker said.

It would cost $660,000 for the first year of the pilot program if the district bought every iPad. If the trustees approve the purchase, the money will come from state funding for Common Core State Standards implementation.

The district is spending at least twice as much on professional learning as the hardware itself, Cash said.

His administration set up a coaching model at every school as well, so teachers can help fellow teachers learn more about the new technology.

If the board approves the iPads purchase at its Jan. 14 meeting, the district can order the iPads the next day, Ryckman said. It will take about a month for the tablets to get delivered and configured to the district’s standards before being distributed to students.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at gmagnoli@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Managing Editor

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at gmagnoli@noozhawk.com.