The Upper Arlington school district will spend $750,000 to provide 3,200 MacBook Air laptop computers to its middle school and high school students.

The Upper Arlington school district will spend $750,000 to provide 3,200 MacBook Air laptop computers to its middle school and high school students.

The purchase is part of a three-year digital conversion program recently approved by the Upper Arlington Board of Education.

The initial $750,000 purchase will be financed through a four-year lease with Apple; at the end of the four years, the district could have the option to sell back the devices.

Money for the laptops and other expenditures in the plan will come from permanent improvement funds, general fund textbook and professional development funds, technology department funds and the student technology fee, Superintendent Paul Imhoff said.

Additional costs include $480,000 to update the district's wireless network; the purchase of 430 MacBook Air laptops for teachers at a cost of $389,212; the purchase of 110 more MacBook Air laptops for students at a cost of $106,867; fees of $62,000 to pay iCoaches for professional development, $49,028 for professional development for teachers from Apple and $52,000 for imaging and preparation of the MacBook Air laptops.

According to Imhoff, details of the program include establishing a $25 student technology fee this year for middle school and high school students; elementary students will pay the fee next year.

Once the digital conversion is complete, the fee will be $50 annually for all students.

"In order to prepare our students for the world beyond our classrooms, it is essential that we personalize learning to provide them with the tools and the opportunities that will enhance educational experiences and ensure their readiness for the next phase of their lives," Imhoff said. "The use of technology is a critical tool that will allow us to achieve this goal for every student."

He said putting a digital device into the hands of every student does not mean the district will rely only on online lessons.

"It is a key point to realize that technology should not be viewed as a replacement for the classroom teacher," he said. "The strong relationship between student and teacher is at the heart of the educational process."

Giving students access to technology "supports and maximizes learning" so they may easily access Internet-based information and online and blended coursework, he said. Students would also be able to share their thoughts, easily collaborate on projects and receive immediate feedback from their teachers.

More-personalized learning is a key goal in the plan, Imhoff said.

"By putting a device into the hands of our students, teachers can design lessons that encourage students to think and learn differently," he said. "By integrating technology, we will give teachers more time for direct, individualized instruction."

He said digital conversion teams were established at the elementary and secondary levels and a timeline also was established. The secondary team for grades six through 12 conducted research and planning during the 2014-15 school year and will begin implementation of the devices this school year.

The elementary digital conversion team plans to conduct research this school year and begin handing out technology to students in kindergarten through grade five during the 2016-17 school year.

Community School students will get their laptops this fall, then the laptops for the rest of the sixth- through 12th-grade students would be distributed this winter, Imhoff said.

"The devices will be distributed to students in a series of student and parent meetings, to make sure students and parents understand the expectations of the use and care of the laptops," he said.

The district also will offer technology insurance to students and families, anticipated to cost $50 per year per device.

Imhoff said the cost of the digital devices for the elementary students has yet to be determined.