(TNS) -- People who don't know what Jim Altig's job is really like often say how lucky he is to work for the Decatur School District, where he gets summers off and Christmas vacation. He doesn't.

“That's our busiest time,” said Altig, laughing.

He's the director of information technology, and during this particular winter break, he and his team have been working frantically to prepare 4,250 iPads for rollout beginning this month. This week, they've had seven semitruck loads arrive, bearing iPad minis for the smaller children, iPads for the intermediate kids, protective cases, carts to keep them on, and every single one has to be unpacked, set up, packed up again and loaded for delivery to a building.

“By Feb. 17, we intend on having every student, kindergarten to eighth grade, having an iPad,” Altig said. “It's an aggressive timeline.”

High school students have had MacBooks since they moved into their renovated buildings, and at Durfee Magnet School, students already had the use of individual iPads, though they don't take theirs home as the high school students do.

“The first year, through the end of this (school) year, we have a list of core apps and that's the starter,” said Jennifer Tuggle, whom Altig credits with organizing the project. “All the teachers will have a common starting place, and they can share and work with each other, planning and collaborating.”

Once students and teachers become comfortable with the devices, and teachers start finding apps unique to their needs, those can be added, Tuggle said.

The devices were ordered last summer and have been delivered over the last several days. When they arrive, they're packed in an outer box and an inner box, Tuggle said, and the team has to unwrap them individually. The serial numbers are scanned and each receives a barcode label for inventory and identification. Each has to be turned on and the W-Fi password entered so they're ready to go when students receive them.

“Working on projects like this is sometimes exhausting, but they are also so exciting,” she said. “In IT, we are usually called in when something breaks or isn't working right. This project is an opportunity for us to be part of something new and exciting.”

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©2016 the Herald & Review (Decatur, Ill.)

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