Principals in Horry County get iPads, controversy starts

By Chandi Lowry - bio | email

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Every principal in the Horry County School District received iPads for the school year and it's sparking controversy.

Karen McIlrath is a parent and running to be on the school board and said, "Is that the way we need to spend our money? [It's] taking money out of the classroom and targeting administrators with it instead of the children."

Others argue that is the entire reasoning behind it.

Velna Allen is the principal at Carolina Forest High and she said the iPads make their lives easier so they have more time to devote to students.

Allen claimed the iPads allow principals to walk from class to class, taking notes for evaluations.

"It does the same things as a laptop but the great thing is it's small, it's light and I can carry it with me everywhere I go and carry it in the classrooms.  When you get a significant number you can look at the trends of your school and it helps us know where we need to focus as a school to be better," Allen said.

There is concern the iPad can be a huge distraction they are even advertised to be more for play than work.

Will Garland is the school board chairman for Horry County and wants parents to know principals are not allowed use the iPads personally or for any kind of entertainment.

iPads cost around $500 a piece, and while group discounts are offered, Garland said the money comes from a technology fund.

"It's back to the idea there's two parts of money. One for school operations and one for capital projects.  I can't use it for my operating budget, I can't use it for paper supplies. I can't use it to pay salaries. I can't use it to pay for fringe benefits or utilities."

Garland said the iPads come from the same fund that put smart boards in classrooms this year.

Mary Ellen Greene and Rivers Lynch are also vying to be members on the school board.

Greene said she hopes one day iPads can trickle down to the kids, but Lynch commented he still thinks the school district should be smarter with their spending.

The district put programs on the devices that give principals easy access to state standards and curriculums.

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