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You Paid For It mailbag: Your thoughts on CCSD spending $1 million on iPads

You Paid For It mailbag: Your thoughts on CCSD spending $1 million on iPads

CREATED May 29, 2011

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) - The more than $1 million in taxpayers' money the Clark County School District has spent on iPads over the last six months has parents and teachers flooding our e-mail inbox and Facebook page.

Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears first exposed the expenditure earlier this week.

You paid for it and now, here's a look at what you think about it.

"This is a luxury. This is all this is. The iPad is a technological luxury," said a high school student who wanted to remain anonymous.

It was his tip that sparked our investigation.

Since our story aired, we've heard from teachers and students both past and present, as well as from parents and other concerned taxpayers.

With few exceptions, the vast majority of you think school district iPads are a waste of your money and you're not at all happy you paid for it.

A parent of a special needs student said her child's school got two iPads.

She writes, "As the teachers are begging for supplies from the parents, the administrators are using iPads."

Contact 13 found the district spent nearly $1.1 million on 1,859 iPads over the last six months. Though some of that is grant money, most of it - more than $800,000 - comes from the school district's general fund.

We uncovered that 574 iPads were for district administration and 1,285 were for schools. And although some being used in classrooms, many at the school level are also in the hands of administrators.

Darcy Spears: What do we tell the students who have seen no benefit and the teachers who have had no access?

"Students have benefits," says Associate Superintendent Dr. Andre Denson. "They may not see the benefit."

Sen. Barbara Cegavske calls the district's choice to buy iPads "unfortunate" and says it's "egregious" that school administrators received so many of the devices.

She wrote to us from Carson City to say, "At a time when we are asking our schools to live within their means, this type of wasteful spending shortchanges our students."

"I think it's bad timing but I also think it's a consistent pattern that they've done for years and years," says Sharon Lea, a retired teacher who spent 15 years in CCSD classrooms. "They were always telling the teachers there wasn't enough money but, in all reality, we saw the waste."

Viewers also have questions about accountability, wondering what apps those who have iPads are buying and how the district can be sure they aren't using them to goof off.

"There is a system in place for accountability and we address issues and we address situations that are not done appropriately," Denson explains.

There are a few of you who applaud the district's decision.

Kristy wrote that iPads are "not only extremely convenient because of their size but cheaper than laptops. And they save paper."

Barbara echoed that, writing iPads are an important step toward online textbooks which "can be updated easier and are more cost-effective."

"I understand that there are pros to this," says the high school student.  "It might help them work more efficiently but that does not certainly outweigh the cost, which would be that, that money could have been utilized for something better."

Something better like saving jobs at a time when 1,800 are on the chopping block or keeping programs that are being cut.

One parent's comment on our Facebook page says, "It is really difficult explaining to my 16 year old why she can't take theater for a third year thanks to budget cuts when reports like this clearly show that the district had the money to redistribute priorities."

Another parent writes, "I went to a school district meeting where they gave us a test to see where we would cut funds from the budget. Never in the meeting was there any word on this. Why is the district in trouble? A first grader could tell you."

Darcy Spears: So what do we tell those teachers, those students who look at this and say, 'You know what? This is not right at this time. How can we afford this at this time?'

"That's a very good question and I would love to speak with anyone who brings that up, because what we can't afford at this time is a step backwards as an education system," says Denson.

We welcome your continued comments on this story and ask that you email them to 13Investigates@KTNV.com.

And we're always looking for suggestions for new You Paid For It investigations so be sure to send those along too.