Moffat County schools change iPad insurance rates for low-income families |

Moffat County schools change iPad insurance rates for low-income families

Sisters Bekah and Christa Bird check out iPads for their advanced placement courses at Moffat County High School during the 2015-16 school year. This is the second year iPads have replaced textbooks and enable students to access other resources and tools at most schools within Moffat County School District.

— Optional iPad insurance for Moffat County School District is now prorated from $50 to $14 for families that qualify for free and reduced lunch. Parents have until December 16 to opt in to the program.

In a letter to parents dated Nov. 14, MCSD Superintendent Dave Ulrich wrote, “The full fee for optional student iPad insurance will remain the same: $50. For students who qualify for free/reduced lunch, the optional insurance for a student iPad will be $14.”

Community members concerned with the cost of iPad insurance appeared at the October meeting of the board of education.

“The ones that can’t afford this fee, it really isn’t about the kiddo, it’s about the family unit and families are asking for assistance,” said Susie Coleman, who works with at-risk youth and families.

She told the board that she was in contact with students and families that are not able to afford the iPad insurance and then are not allowed to take the iPad home to do their homework. 

The school district has asked students and parents to pay the $50 insurance fee to help cover replacement of $600 tablet in the event of damage or destruction.

The insurance payments are optional, but were the same for all families, including those families with low income.

This meant those families unable to afford $50 would face a $600 bill if the iPad were broken.

“I struggle with that philosophically. We really put parents in a catch-22,” Ulrich said. “If a student lost a uniform or a book, they would have to pay for it. The difference is that we don’t ask them for this up front.”

School Board Secretary Charity Neal expressed concern about both the fairness of the policy and how that policy was presented to students.

“We are holding children responsible for parent’s decisions,” she said. “Messaging in the school should be less punitive. Children should not be in tears or fearful.”

Coleman asked, “Where does the $50 go? To the district? Do the families get the money back?”

Revenue from the non-refundable insurance fee supports technology fees within the district general fund and helps offset the cost of Apple Care for all iPads. The district pays about $100 in addition to the insurance fee, according to the district finance office.

School Board Treasurer Darryl Steele asked, “can’t we do the same sort of deal as what we offer for the athletics?”

Athletic fees are prorated for students who qualify for free or reduced lunch.

Ulrich asked the board to allow him time to access the impact on the district budget if insurance was prorated for low-income families.

“Give me the time to collect that information,” he said.

By the November school board meeting Ulrich had determined that the district was able to afford proration for some families.

“The figure of $14 is based on the current established practice of charging 28 percent of full fee for Moffat County High School athletics,” he wrote in his letter to parents. “If your student qualifies for free/reduced lunch and you have paid for the optional insurance, you are eligible for a refund of $36.”

Full deployment of iPads occurred by the end of October, about two months earlier than in 2015, said Ulrich.

Due to the change, the district has reopened the purchase window for iPad insurance until Dec. 16.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.

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