School board pays $343,000 to replace missing, damaged iPads

File (WJXT)

INVERNESS, Fla. – One Florida school board is shelling out $343,000 to lease iPads after some 1,100 units were either damaged or not returned when school ended in the spring.

Citrus County School Board members agreed this week to spend the money after being told that the number of broken or missing iPads had more than doubled, the Citrus County Chronicle reported.

Kathy Androski, the board’s technical director, said the district normally sees between 7% and 10% of the iPads damaged each year, and about 3% not returned when school ends. After the last school year, which was interrupted by the coronavirus, 24% were damaged and 10% not returned, she said.

The district's staff is working to track down the missing equipment, Androski said. That includes locking iPads remotely when someone tries to turn them on. A message on the screen says that the iPad belongs to the Citrus County School District and should be returned.

The school board either owns or leases 16,500 to 17,000 iPads, according to Mike Mullen, the district's assistant superintendent.

They were originally missing 1,500 iPads, Androski said. But the staff reduced that number to 1,100.

Parents sign contracts with the school district, agreeing to return the iPads at the end of a school term, the newspaper reported.

“The district continues to pursue the recovery of iPads not returned by students or recoup the cost of the iPad from the families that did not return them," Androski said.

Chairwoman Sandy Counts recommended using tougher language in the contracts about the consequences of not returning the iPads.

The school board currently offers parents iPad insurance for $24.99.

Mullen said the board could make insurance a requirement. But he warned that parents could refuse and “at the end of the day they’ll come here and say my (child) needs an education” and the board would be hard pressed not to loan out the iPad, the newspaper reported.