HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The Horry County School Board voted to place tablets in every fifth grader's hand in the beginning of next school year, but did not expand the Personalized Digital Learning program into any other elementary school grades.
School Board Chairman Joe Defeo says iPads or tablets were originally proposed for third, fourth and fifth graders.
However, at a meeting on Monday night, board members voted to expand the program into just the fifth grade, and the decision did not come easy.
"There's been issues, but I don't want us to let the struggles that we've had to lose sight of where we agreed to go..." Board Member Neil James, started to say before he was interrupted by applause.
One mother was fearful what delaying the technology for all elementary school grades could mean to students.
"...and I believe if we hold it back another two years or a year, that in that time there's going to be even different technologies and our students would not have had the impact that they could have today," Jane Pearce said.
Pearce is a mother of two: a first grader and a kindergarten student.
Other board members also questioned the delay.
"This isn't kicking it down the road, this is a matter of it being done right," Joe Defeo responded. From Defeo's standpoint, there have just been too many issues with the tablets.
"We haven't been able to keep up with what's been going on in the schools, so I say lets master it," Defeo added.
Defeo feels the roll out of three years was unrealistic from the beginning, and it should have been over the course of five years.
Ohers believe having these devices in the class room is crucial.
"We need to keep students excited about learning; technology is their native language, and the devices will be an incredible tool for engagement and enhancement to classroom instruction," another parent added.
While board members did understand the benefit, they still wanted answers.
"I want them to be as educated as possible technologically, but I don't want to get ourselves into a bind where we have maybe false promises, I don't know. I didn't hear what Dell had to say or iPad...Apple," Vice Chairman, David Cox said.
Chairman Joe Defeo expects the iPads or tablets in all fifth graders' hands by this September or October, and hopes once issues with insurance for the devices, and the overall costs are answered, third and fourth grade will be next.