Parents confused by Horry County Schools' iPad program

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - When it comes to tablets in Horry County Schools, the main concern for parents might be how much they're paying for insurance, but the school district says the common confusion is what your kids are taking home.

For middle school students, it's an Ipad and for high school students, a Dell Venue. The latter is a tablet with an attachable keyboard.

Taking devices home has always been a district goal, as part of the personal digital learning initiative, to catch up with the rest of the country.

"It's to extend the learning, it's to extend the school day for them, it's to give them the resources at home that they we're using in the classroom," said Ashley Gasperson, Digital Coordinator with Horry County Schools.

Not bringing one home, won't hinder their learning. Gasperson says if there were homework assignments that may require the use of a device at home, there would be other options.

About 5,300 students have opted to pay the $50 take a device to and from school, as of last week, but with additional distribution, this week, hundreds more were added to the list.

If all 22,000 middle and high school students were to sign up for insurance, that's more than a million dollars. The district says the extra money will be used to keep digital learning in the schools, making sure each student has one to use in the classroom.

But at home, or at school, if you break it, you buy it, which is where the $50 insurance comes in.

"The fifty dollar insurance covers it no matter what, if you want to turn it in because you lost a key or you broke it completely," said Gasperson.

If you're still deciding whether to pay the insurance, there's no deadline. The school district says you can sign your kid up to take home a tablet at any time.

If you're wondering why $50 is the bill, there's a formula behind the price.

District leaders visited other schools programs, state and nationwide. Some pay $10 dollars, some pay hundreds. They found $50 was a middle ground to cover, exactly what they needed.

"It was what was needed from the insurance company and to cover the cost of the bag to help protect them and give us what we needed to do to protect them," said Gasperson.

The $50 will covers complete destruction, or a scratch, but parents are concerned it only covers damage one time.

Gasperson compared the policy to car insurance. Just because you get a dent, doesn't mean you turn in a claim. If a key falls off the venue, which could be $10 in damage, you don't have to claim the $50 insurance. It works on a case by case basis, but each year, a new fee applies.

Since parents have been calling offering to pay for other students, the district is working to put together a scholarship fund, to help other students get them.

For more on the personalized digital learning initiative in Horry County Schools: http://www.horrycountyschools.net/pages/Horry_County_Schools/News/HCS_Personalized_Digital_Learn