Dubuque Schools to Use 1 Cent Sales Tax Revenue for Tablets

by Katie Wiedemann, Reporter

DUBUQUE, Iowa - the Dubuque School Board approved a technology upgrade plan. It means each high school student will get a tablet.
The plan comes with an annual price tag of $3.5 million for each of the next four years. The district will use money from the one cent sales tax to pay for the technology upgrade. A 2008 state law change allowed the district to buy what it needs.

In her World History class at Senior High School, Stacy Schmidt often tells students to put their cell phones away.

Schmidt said, "it's one of those things that is going to be inevitable. It's going to be a constant. "

She believes the best way to engage students in curriculum is to meet them where they are.

"I could say 'hey get your tablet out, Google this person, who are they? Or what does that word mean, go to Dictionary.com' "

While it may seem like every child already has his or her smart phone or tablet, administrators say almost 30 percent of the student population doesn't have access to computers at home.

Dubuque Schools Superintendent Stan Rheingans said, "We can't leave them behind. We can't put them in a scenario where they go to college or to work and not have been exposed to current technology."

In 2008 the Iowa legislature changed the law about how school districts can spend money generated through the one cent sales tax. Prior to 2008 that money could only be used for building upgrades.

Rheingans said, "obviously we still have money for infrastructure need and for buildings. But we tried to pull some of those dollars towards technology because it's so vital for what students need. "

Rheingans says the district has plans in place to keep students from abusing the technology and for keeping them off social media while in the classroom.

"if the content and everything is engaging" said Schmidt. "The kids aren't going to want to go to Facebook. "

The Elementary and middle school students aren't left out of this deal.
Each grade level will have roughly 25 tablets available for students.
But those students will only be able to use the tablets while at school.
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