In 2010, the Central York school board considered spending $1.6 million to purchase a laptop for every high-schooler.
The trouble was the district planned to cover the cost with federal stimulus money.
That was the one-time cash infusion intended to jolt the country out of recession, and by 2010 that well was running dry.
Yet the administration intended to replace the laptops every four years -- at $1.6 million or more a pop.
The school board wisely decided not to launch an expensive, ongoing program with limited funds.
That was a good move, especially, in hindsight, when the district still had to raise taxes to balance the next budget.
Now the board is trying it again -- but this high-tech initiative is much more reasonable in scale and has the potential actually to save the district money.
Starting this year every freshman will have access to an iPad during the school day.
The district, which hasn't raised taxes in the previous two budget sessions, purchased 500 of the devices and accessories for $250,000 -- the amount it normally sets aside annually for technology.
The move is based on a pilot program in select classrooms last year that Superintendent Michael Snell said was a huge success.
He told the school board he expects significant savings in textbook costs and copying as the district moves toward "paperless classrooms."
Anyone who has used an iPad or other tablet computer understands the potential of these devices for learning and organization, and many available applications are tailored for students and classrooms.
Other area districts, while not purchasing the devices for students, are encouraging them to bring their own to school for use in the classroom.
It will be interesting to see how Central taps that potential -- just as it will be interesting to see how much the district saves.
Many publishers are offering cheaper, electronic versions of textbooks. Districts also can save money by purchasing fewer versions of the same texts as they're updated -- think purchasing pages, rather than entire books.
Central is doing this right: not spending more than it normally would and limiting the program to one grade as it evaluates the program's success or failure.
If it works as Snell suggests it will, the district could conceivably add a grade to the program each year, reaping even more savings.
After that initial false start a few years ago, Central could yet be the area leader in high-tech learning it strives to be.