Lawmakers divided on statewide student iPad idea - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Lawmakers divided on statewide student iPad idea

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Discretionary funds provided iPads for Albertville Primary students. Discretionary funds provided iPads for Albertville Primary students.

If one Marshall County legislator has his way, there could be a new iPad in the hands of every single student in Alabama.

The local legislative delegation was able to come up with some discretionary funding for iPads at Albertville Primary School this year. They liked what they saw and they want to expand the project on a much broader level.

Representative Kerry Rich and Senator Clay Scofield took a grand tour of Albertville Primary Tuesday morning as they toured different schools in their districts, listening to teachers and school officials about their needs.

Rich anticipates there will be a slightly larger education budget this year over last. One item on the table being considered is iPads for every school child in the state.

Scofield said there is a proposal for the legislature to consider passing a $100 million bond issue this coming legislative session to make that a reality. Scofield said the idea passed the house last term, but the session ended before the senate could vote. He feels it's good technology for the learning process, while being cost-effective for the state.

"One of the ways that we pay for this is instead of buying textbooks, we buy the iPads and the apps, and it saves the state a tremendous amount of money. The best thing about it is that we can stay more current on our subject matter," said Scofield.

Senator Scofield said he would like to see this item put at the front of the legislative calendar.

However, not every Alabama lawmaker is on board. State Senator Roger Bedford spent the day at schools in Colbert County. Tuesday, Bedford met with fifth graders at Wilson Elementary in Sheffield. Bedford said a digital switch in Alabama schools should wait a few more years.

"I think we should remain with current textbooks for a few more years. It's a bit of a leap for me to go simply to tablets and computers. Ultimately I think we'll move that way, but right now we need to make sure we have the money to support our teachers and make sure they have academic and extracurricular activities, which gives a rounded educational experience to our young people," Bedford said.

Lawmakers will debate the issue in Montgomery early next year.

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