ipad

La Canada teachers will have access to iPads this year to download educational software. (Roger Wilson / Staff Photographer / September 19, 2011)

La Cañada schools are taking another step into the digital age.

This year teachers will have classroom Internet access and an iPad to be able to download educational software, according to Mike Leininger, the La Cañada Unified School District’s assistant superintendent of facilities and operations.

“We are doing our best to provide the best technology we can as we move into the future,” Leininger told the school board Monday. Students don’t yet have wireless access, Leininger said, but that could change by Aug. 28, the first day of the school year.

“We need filters and blocks to the equipment before we allow them to have access to everything,” he said. At the moment, he added, “We don’t have a plan in place or the security needed to have students have wireless capabilities.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, board members also announced the district has opted out of the competition for federal Race to the Top funds, saying that the program doesn’t align with district goals, and that La Cañada Unified is not likely to qualify.

The nationwide Race to the Top competition was unveiled by the federal Department of Education in 2009, inviting states to compete for hundreds of millions of dollars by reforming their educational efforts with innovations intended to boost graduation and attendance rates.

At first states had the opportunity to compete for the funds, and in 2011 California received more than $50 million. The federal government now allows individual districts to apply for grants worth up to $25 million.

Last month school board member Andrew Blumenfeld and Supt. Wendy Sinnette evaluated the program, and in a six-page summary report recommended against applying.

A key reason is that La Cañada Unified does not meet the requirement that at least 40% of students come from low-income families. Another key is that the district already exceeds program goals regarding graduation rates, post-graduation college enrollment and student attendance figures, Blumenfeld said.