CL – Rankin school officials buy iPads amidst recession

Rankin County School District officials have spent at least $25,000 in federal funds to buy about 50 iPads for principals and district department heads, as well as school board members.

District officials say the gadget, with a price tag starting at about $500, helps educators stay mobile and abreast of new technology.

But others say the devices are a frivolous purchase, especially at a time when school budgets are being cut and there is significant need in classrooms.

The iPad is a touch-screen device about the size of a standard notebook with features similar to a smart phone – myriad applications, business communication features and Internet access – but it’s not used to make calls.

“Technology is a great thing and it’s a useful tool as long as you supply the needs of school kids to begin with,” said board member Grumpy Farmer, who did not accept the iPad offered to him.