Students as young as kindergarten get iPads in North Kansas City

KANSAS CITY NORTH -- About 14,000 elementary and middle school students in the North Kansas City district got iPads on Wednesday to help expand their learning opportunities.

The schools say they've have added this technology without spending an extra dime from the taxpayers' budget.

North Kansas City had been providing laptops to high schoolers. But this is the first time the district has put this sort of technology into the hands of kids as young as kindergartners.

"It’s like with anything, just like learning a language, the younger you learn it the better or more advanced you are going to become," explained Anjanette Walker, principal of Chouteau Elementary School. "Getting them in the hands of our youngest students is so important."

Children lined up in the library to receive their iPads, which administrators say will not replace good teaching, but supplement and expand learning the skills children need to be successful in an increasingly competitive world.

Kindergartners through second graders must leave their tablets at school. But parents are pleased that older kids can take the iPads home to research their homework or collaborate on projects with classmates.

"With the new changing world all involving technology I think it’s perfect," said Aricka Beachem, mother of two children at Chouteau. "It’s easier for them to have it at home and at school so they can do some of the same things they are doing at school and show their parents exactly what they’re doing. And the access is very important."

The district is spending $2.1-million a year for the next four years to provide iPads to all K through 8 students and staff, and Macbook laptops for high schoolers. Because the Apple machines hold their value, administrators say they were able to trade in the previous generation of Macbooks high schoolers were using and add 15,000 iPads for the rest of the schools at the same cost the district had been paying for just the laptops alone.

The tablets are equipped with internet security filters. But the schools are telling parents they still should monitor their kids' use of the devices. Only school approved apps can be downloaded to the iPads.