Google Facebook Twitter Linkedin

644 Pleasant Street | Belmont, MA 02478
phone: 617 - 993 - 5400
< Back
You are here  >   Parents  >  Innovation FAQs

Innovation Project Overview

Q:Can you describe the roll out of iPads at the High School and the associated benefits?

As part of the Innovative Teaching Project, and beginning with the class of 2017, each high school student will receive an iPad, which will be available for use on and off campus. The Innovative Teaching Project is a larger campaign being launched by the Foundation for Belmont Education to support both the practices and tools needed to increase innovative instructional models in the Belmont Public Schools. The iPads will be funded through the Fund for Innovative Teaching Tools (FITT), one component of the overall campaign.

iPads at Belmont High School enable each student and faculty member to expand teaching and learning opportunities with the use of the iPads’ universally available curriculum materials and electronic textbooks. Students will be inquisitive, open-minded learners who use technology in a balanced and responsible manner along the way to becoming discerning and self-directed.

iPads are used to differentiate instruction through flexible grouping or deliver a lesson through whole group instruction. The iPad is used to enhance instruction throughout the content areas while at the same time to transform the classroom from a teacher-driven instructional model to a student-driven one.

Q:How are iPads configured and distributed?

Each year, the incoming freshman class configure their iPads at the end of 8th grade. The iPads are then stored for the summer and distributed during the first week of school. One advantage of deploying iPads over multiple years is to keep costs down through a manageable and deliberative approach.

Q:How do I get more information?

Next year’s 9th grade students and their parents will be asked to attend a one hour information session where they will learn how iPads will be used in the fall and expectations for use. Dates for each school year will be sent to parents of current 8th grade students in April. Additional information is available by e-mailing Steve Mazzola, Director of Technology,


Q:How is the program funded?

The program is funded by a generous grant from the Foundation for Belmont Education, the Belmont Public Schools operating budget, and by additional private grants.

Q:Why a one-to-one program?

Providing students with iPads in a one-to-one model creates opportunities to improve students’ 21st century skills for problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, data gathering and analysis, oral and written communication, and technological competence, among others. These are difficult skills to master. With our current levels of technology, we are limited in how many times per year we can fully expose students to the skills and work to develop mastery. The one-to-one model provides students with greatly increased opportunities to practice and provides teachers with multiple opportunities over the course of the year to assess student growth. Specifically, we anticipate students will become more engaged and capable in research, creative projects, argumentation, demonstrations, summaries, and other artifacts that grant evidence of the growth of knowledge and skills.

By increasing the frequency with which students practice selecting academically reliable sources, annotate and analyze those sources, synthesize the information from multiple sources, and then create an argument, teachers will be able to chart student progress and differentiate instruction in order to support struggling learners and to increase the level of mastery for all students.

Q:Why iPads?

Several options for the use of electronic devices were reviewed. Ultimately, we chose the iPad2 because of these features:

  • We were looking for a tablet (as opposed to a laptop or laptop replacement).
  • We wanted the ability to choose between using a touch screen or keyboard.
  • We were interested in a device which could run textbooks and applications natively without a connection to the internet.
  • We wanted to have access to thousands of education-related applications.
  • We desired an operating system and compatible hardware produced by the same company for integration and reliability.
  • We sought an interface which is already familiar to most students and staff who also own iPods or iPhones.
  • We needed devices that can run 10 hours without charging.
  • We wanted a device that is lightweight and boots up quickly.
  • The product had to be supported by a company with extensive experience in the education market.
  • The provider would be a significant developer and offer a user support community.
  • The provider needed to demonstrate an installed base in thousands of K-12 schools, including many in our immediate area.
  • The system had to offer accessibility features natively, including text-to-speech, and accept assistive technology devices.
  • The system needed to be supported by hundreds of vendors who produce hardware specifically for the iPad, including microscopes, probes and other science equipment, musical instruments, midi devices, and recording equipment for music.
  • The device needed to have a rear-facing camera for content capture.
  • The system had to be easily integrated into our existing SMARTBoard, remote access, and Edline technologies.
  • The device needed to have an ability to produce multimedia content.

Student iPad Use

Q:Can students bring their own iPad?

Yes. However, all devices, either owned by the district or the student, would be programmed and compliant with the applications and systems of the Belmont School Department.  Prior to the beginning of school, the district will load a lightweight management profile which allows us to send out apps over the network and gives us basic information about the device state such as battery life, storage space, network address etc. Student owned devices are still subject to the same internet filtering as other devices while on campus. There would be no filtering while off campus.

Students would continue to have use of both school and personal apps. Game apps are not allowed on district iPads, but that restriction would not apply to personally-owned devices. However, even if they are allowed to have these apps, they would not be able to use them while in school; even during free time.

There is little impact on the look and feel of the iPad, other than the name of the iPad being changed to reflect the district’s device naming convention. Any changes can be easily reversed. If during the school year, you no longer wish to use your own iPad, you can always elect to receive a district-issued iPad after the end of the first semester. 


Q:Does a student need to bring the iPad to all classes?

iPads are considered part of the educational setting just like books, calculators, or binders. If an iPad is required in a given class, the student is expected to possess it.

Q:How is data backed up on the iPad?

Work saved to the iPad is the student's responsibility to backup. The District assumes no responsibility for lost work due to malfunction or user error. Students will be able to use iCloud, Drive, and e-mail to backup files. More information on the iCloud back up process and other options will be available at the student iPad information sessions.

Q:Is the iPad a good way to take notes? Isn't it difficult to type on?

Students in the pilot program have indicated no real difficulty with typing notes. In actuality, they have found the iPad to be helpful in their note taking and organization. There is no doubt students have plenty of experience communicating with devices which do not have keyboards. Students who experience difficulty typing have the option of adding an inexpensive keyboard.

Q:Which apps are used?

The district will supply a base set of apps including Notability, Explain Everything, Google Drive, iBooks, Book Creator, and others. Teachers may require other apps. Students can download additional apps on their own as long as they are for educational purpose and relate directly to their school work.

Students may not use game apps or any other non-educational app. The use of non-educational apps will result in disciplinary action.

Q:Will students have e-mail accounts?

Students are issued district-owned e-mail accounts under the Google Apps program. Students are expected to use their accounts for educational purposes only and are prohibited from using their e-mail accounts on non-educational sites. Student e-mail account use is governed by the Student Acceptable Use Policy.


All student accounts are monitored by systems which will identify use in violation of the Student Acceptable Use Policy. Students should have no expectation of privacy when using district network resources.

BHS 2012-13 Pilot

Q:Who was involved in the BHS 2012-13 iPad pilot?

The pilot involved 85 sophomores in the American Studies Honors class. Throughout the year, they used their iPad to access course materials, an electronic textbook, and to take notes in class. They also researched, created, and submitted class projects and participated in online assessments.

Staff iPad Use

Q:Are the textbooks that the teachers want already available for iPads?

Currently, there are four textbook in use: Physics, World History, Latin and American Studies. Furthermore, the English Department uses apps to access other works. Certainly, Curriculum Directors may take this opportunity to adopt a new text since there is a growing number of quality electronic textbooks now available. 

Q:Will staff be provided training on iPad use?

Yes. Professional development will be provided not only on the use of the iPad, but also about educational applications, with additional curriculum development throughout the summer and professional development throughout the school year. To date, nearly 70% of the high school teaching staff have attended the district's 2-day course and another twenty are expected to take the course next June.

Budget and Maintenance

Q:Are there any cost savings?

Although cost reduction is not the primary goal of this program, it is anticipated cost savings will be achieved by reduced printing and copier costs, fewer PC and printer purchases, fewer Windows and Office license renewals, and a reduction in network storage space.

Q:How do you keep track of so many iPads?

iPads will be placed in the current technology inventory and identified in real time via the LightSpeed Mobile Device Management tool.

Q:Is there concern about theft?

Theft of technology has been historically low in Belmont. Of course, iPads, which are small and travel with students, are at a greater risk; but there has been a low incidence to date. Our research has shown the best way to prevent theft is to have a solid education campaign about use and protection. This introductory program and instruction are incorporated into the iPad Usage Requirements and Guidelines agreement and student/parent information sessions.

Q:What is the expected life span of an iPad?

iPads will be placed on a 4 year replacement schedule with repairs and in-service replacements as needed. It is important to understand that the iPad2 (current unit in service) was introduced in March, 2011. This means even districts which purchased iPads as soon as they were available for large scale shipment have had them for only 2 years. Apple does not publish statistics on the lifespan of an iPad, nor do they predict device longevity. We are reminded that iPads are a relatively new technology, and there are no reliable predictions of useful life.

Q:Will the iPads be used after four years?

At the beginning of year 4, an assessment would be made of the iPads and if they can stay in service. If they are still viable, they will be repurposed after year 4 for use at other Belmont schools.

Program Policy

Q:Are iPads covered by the Student Acceptable Use Policy?

iPads are to support teaching and learning. All policies of the Belmont Public Schools apply, including the Student Acceptable Use Policy. Furthermore, students and parents will be asked to sign the iPad Usage Requirements and Guidelines agreement which details additional usage requirements.

Q:Can a student opt-out of the program and not receive an iPad?

Yes. Any parent who does not wish their student to receive an iPad should do so by sending a request to Daniel Richards, Belmont High School Principal, To date, no families have opted out of the program.

Q:How are iPads protected? Can I use a different case?

The expectation is that students will keep their iPad in the provided protective cases and use the strategies outlined in the iPad Usage Requirements and Guidelines document. Different cases may be substituted depending on usage patterns, case condition, and other factors. Worn cases may be replaced as conditions dictate. 

Parents may opt to provide their own case. If a family wishes to use a case other than the one provided by the district, the original iPad must be returned to the Technology office in order for the inventory tag to be transferred.

Q:How will internet access be monitored?

All iPad internet traffic on the Belmont High School network is filtered and monitored in the same way we monitor regular PCs and laptops. When the iPads are used off campus, they are subject to filtering, but reserve the right to remove the filtering if there are long-term technical issues which impede efficient use of the iPad; and only after informing parents of our intention to do so. It is the responsibility of the student to use the iPad appropriately. Parents should discuss appropriate use with their student as they would with any internet enabled device in the home.

Please Note: If you use your own iPad, we will not be able to monitor internet traffic off campus.

Q:Who is responsible for damage or theft of the iPad?

Families are responsible for insuring the device against damage or loss, whether by self-insuring or through purchase of one of several inexpensive insurance policies commercially available. Alternative insurance providers have policies around $35-$50, with varying deductibles. 

If no insurance has been purchased, the district will send the damaged unit to Apple or other certified company for repair and then bill the student.  Lost iPads will be billed to the student at the district's cost. Similarly, proper care of related items such as covers, chargers, charging cables, and styli are also the responsibility of families. In limited cases, accessories may be replaced at no cost if it has been determined by the Technology department that the failure occurred as a result of normal wear and tear.

If you qualify for the federal Free and Reduced Lunch program, you do not need to purchase insurance.The district will insure the device for you for one loss. Subsequent losses will need to be paid for by the family. If you are unsure if you qualify, contact the Technology Office at 617-993-5450.

Contact Us

  • Administration: 617-993-5400
  • Belmont High School: 617-993-5900 
  • Chenery Middle School: 617-993-5800 
  • Butler School: 617-993-5550 
  • Burbank School: 617-993-5500 
  • Wellington School: 617-993-5600 
  • Winn Brook School: 617-993-5700
  • BPS Webmaster: send email


TOP Copyright 2020 by Belmont Public Schools. All Rights Reserved Privacy Statement