Scarborough schools are getting Smart

They may be smart, but they sure are pricey.

Smart Boards can be found in growing numbers in schools all over the city. The touch screen whiteboards allow students to be interactive with their lessons.

Cedar Drive Public School got its first Smart Board last year and has since added two more. The dream is to have one in every classroom, but they’re just too expensive, principal Karen Robertson said.

“They cost about $1,400 and that’s just for the Smart Board,” Robertson said. “Then you have to add the markers the screen, and a laptop to go with it. Then you have to add the digital projector. So by the time you’re done, you’re probably looking at around $3,000 when you do the whole package.”

Smart Boards, although more costly, uses learning methods that are more endearing to students than pens and paper.

“It’s awesome,” said Fara Clermont, a Grade 6 student at Cedar Drive. “It helps us with math and multiplication.”

George P. Mackie Public School has had Smart Boards for four years now.  They now have five in total, and with only one class for each grade, this means that nearly every classroom has a Smart Board. They paid for it all through parent council fundraising, according to Cedar Drive vice-principal Cheryl Yamamoto, who recently transferred to Cedar Drive from George P. Mackie.

George P. Mackie may be close in proximity to Cedar Drive – about a 15-minute walk away – but the neighbourhood surrounding Mackie is much wealthier in comparison that of Cedar Drive’s.

Cedar Drive doesn’t have the luxury of parent-council fundraising, as the demographics show the residents in the area do not have as much disposable income.

The school serves children from Scarborough Village, one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the city. Due to the area’s notoriety for low income, the school gets money from the Inner City Model School fund, a TDSB program that gives extra funding to schools in less affluent areas.

The program helps bridge the gap between schools in rich and poor areas, offering schools like Cedar Drive a chance to access technology such as Smart Boards.

“It helps make up the difference for needier schools that can’t afford technology. We should be just as equitable as every other school,” said Robertson, who is hoping for more Smart Boards in Cedar Drive classrooms.