First-time laptops on the way to Iredell-Statesville students

Students at North Iredell Middle, East Iredell Middle, Mt. Mourne I.B. and Northview I.B. will be the first in the Iredell-Statesville Schools to receive new MacBook Air computers for the first time this spring, Superintendent Brady Johnson announced this week.

The laptops will eventually be distributed to all students in grades 6 through 12.

The total cost of the devices, including professional development and warranties is just over $10 million, schools spokeswoman Dawn Creason said. Most of the money will come from a nearly $20 million federal Race to the Top grant the district was awarded in 2012, she said.

On Tuesday night, the Iredell County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 to approve a debt resolution that enables the district to move forward with the Iredell-Statesville Board of Education’s plan to provide the laptops to students in 16 schools.

Commissioner David Boone voted against the purchase, saying the system could have gotten a better initial price.

Lake Norman High School and teacher laptops weren’t included in the grant, Creason said. The school’s low free/reduced lunch percentage barred it from receiving money from the grant, she said.

“However, our board was fully committed to ensuring our blended learning initiative was rolled out to all middle and high school students, so they committed the extra funding out of their local budget,” Creason said in an email to the Observer.

A timeline for further rollout of the laptops will be developed over the next several weeks upon approval by the U.S. Department of Education, Johnson said.

“We had always planned to do a phased approach,” Johnson said. “This project is large, a lot of people are counting on us, and it is important that we do it the right way and ensure that we provide ourselves with ample opportunities to troubleshoot along the way.

“It would be nearly impossible to do that if we tried to deploy 12,000 laptops at one time,” he said.

The Iredell-Statesville Board of Education and administration are also fully committed to deploying the new laptops to teachers as quickly as possible, Johnson added.