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An iPad For Every Kindergartner?

the Apple iPad 2

Apple's iPad 2Apple

Does your 5 year old need an iPad?

School officials in Maine certainly think so, where the Auburn Schools Committee voted unanimously to provide all kindergartners with a brand new iPad 2 next year -- with the process repeated for each new incoming class.

It's a move that will ultimately cost the school system about $200,000 next year, including Apple's $25 discount from the designer tablet's regular retail price. While the thought of a bunch of grubby kindergartners running around with $500 equipment may seem ridiculous, school superintendent Tom Morrill is a staunch believer in what he considers "a game changer."

"This is truly redefining how we're going to teach and learn," said Morrill, speaking to the school committee. "We're talking about a new tool, the iPad 2. You begin to watch how young people jump on, jump in and figure this out. It has great potential for leveling the playing field for all students."

Steve Jobs has long touted the educational potential of his latest shiny toy. But for local parent Nicole Fortin, the whole thing is just too much, especially when the district is looking for a 5 percent budget increase.

"It's crazy," Fortin told Maine newspaper The Sun Journal. "I look at all of the budgetary restraints we have. Our school system loses money every year to certain things. This is a lot to put in the hands of a 5-year-old."

Morrill hopes to find the money in the school budget and from grants from now through June, when he retires.