LAUSD To Vote on Spending Additional $135 Million On iPad Project

Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is working to provide iPads to every student and teacher — at what the district is increasingly realizing is a tremendous, more-than-anticipated cost. The nation’s second-largest school district launched a $1-billion project to distribute iPads to its 640,000 students by late 2014, but the rollout has been fraught with complications with security and funding.

In a revised spending plan that emerged as part of a compromise plan, school district officials hope to spend additional $135 million in the spring semester for the next portion of the iPad distribution. The money would pay for 24,541 tablets at 38 schools and 28,385 iPads for teachers and administrators across the school system, writes Howard Blume of Los Angeles Times.

The new plan calls for buying an additional 67,480 tablets to allow all students to take new state standardized tests with the iPads on a rotating basis. In addition, the plan calls for buying more than 116,000 keyboards and 2,000 storage and charging carts.

At the end of the spring semester, purchases are expected to stop while the program is analyzed, for as much as a year. The spending plan will be reviewed by a committee that oversees school-bond spending. The vast majority of project costs are being paid for with voter-approved school bonds.

The proposal is scheduled to go to the Board of Education in December when the board will make a final decision. A subcommittee of the bond oversight committee advised approving only part of the plan. In an analysis, the panel endorsed providing tablets to 38 additional schools, but the panel said it was premature to buy tablets for all teachers and administrators.

In additional, the panel said the district failed to justify that 67,480 additional tablets would be needed for students to take standardized tests. The district failed to account for existing district computers that also can be used, according to the panel.

In Los Angeles, many teachers and parents are opposing the district’s ambitious iPads project. On November 19th, more than a dozen Los Angeles teachers staged their first protest against iPads project and called the effort misguided and unsustainable, writes Stephen Ceasar and Howard Blume of Los Angeles Times.

About 15 teachers, parents and representatives from the teachers union rallied at the Valley Academy of Arts and Sciences in Granada Hills, just before a meeting held by Board of Education member Tamar Galatzan where LAUSD officials explained and defended the iPad rollout.

The protest was organized by United Teachers Los Angeles. It included protesters eating an iPad-shaped cake and 10 teachers and parents holding up the numerical digits of the $1-billion cost.

The LAUSD pays $768 per iPad to Apple. The higher than retail price includes a limited three-year warranty, a protective case and other features. The bundle of extras is worth at least $200 more than the district paid for each device.