DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Foxcroft Academy could become the first school in the state to provide iPads for all of its students in 2011-2012 if a pilot program is successful later this school year.

With technology constantly changing, Foxcroft Academy didn’t jump to purchase computers for each of its students a few years ago like most schools across the nation.

Instead, it has used a pool of computers in a computer laboratory, which has worked OK, say school officials. But they feel it is imperative to move the school’s technology into the 21st century, according to Arnold Shorey, FA’s head of school.

As such, FA Board of Trustees voted Monday to begin a pilot project that would involve the purchase of about 60 iPads and the participation of the staff in some “intense” professional development on the iPad, Shorey said Wednesday.

Shorey said a fund-raising campaign has been started to help with the purchase of the iPads for the pilot project, a cost estimated at $25,000-$30,000 for the 60 units. The iPads purchased for the pilot project would not leave the school, but those purchased for the regular program would be used at school and at home, he said.

Because FA is an independent school, it is ineligible for federal grants. Shorey said the school would pursue private grants. Apple is working closely with FA to help bring the project to fruition.

If the pilot program is successful through the year, the school would purchase enough iPads for each of the 376 students and faculty for use in school and at home, likely starting next year, Shorey explained. A very rough estimate for equipping the entire school with iPads could be in the $200,000 range. FA educates RSU 68 students in Dover-Foxcroft, Monson, Sebec and Charleston, as well as many foreign students.

“What we’re looking for is not a tool just for technology sake; we’re looking for something that impacts learning and teaching,” Shorey stated.

A committee, which has been investigating the latest technological tools, favored the iPad. The iPads are appealing because they are very durable, they have no moving parts, they function as a laptop in most cases, and can act as a Kindle so textbooks and classics can be downloaded, Shorey said. In addition, they are about half the cost of a laptop, he noted.

“The applications for education are amazing. There are a tremendous amount of apps and many of them are free,” Shorey said. “It’s overwhelming the possibilities for education.”

The change would take the school forward and help fulfill its mission, specifically being a collaborative leader, a lifelong learner, and an analytical thinker, Shorey said.