Apple Approved as Sole Tablet Vendor for Los Angeles Schools

The Los Angeles Unified School District has awarded a $30 million technology contract to Apple, Howard Blume and Teresa Watanabe of the Los Angeles Times report. The contract is meant to provide every child in the second-largest school district in the country with an Apple iPad tablet.

The LAUSD Board of Education voted unanimously to award the contract to Apple after senior district administrators argued that their popular digital tablet was the best option for the best price to meet the needs of Los Angeles students. Forty-seven campuses around the district will be receiving the tablets this fall.

The push for tablets came from schools Supt. John Deasy, who made it his goal to close the technology gap for the overwhelming majority of low-income district students. He expects to pay for the tablets with school construction bonds, a controversial source because they are repaid over decades. Such bonds typically are used to build and modernize campuses.

New state and national tests will be taken on computers, and district officials don't want students to lack the necessary experience with them.

Although he eventually voted for the contract, board member Steve Zimmer questioned whether tablets were sufficiently powerful to be of much use to high school students. He noted that it was fitting to debate the contract in detail because it was one of the largest technology commitments the district was likely to make in the short term.

LAUSD will be paying $678 for each tablet – higher than the retail price – but each device will come preloaded with education software. An additional purchase of a wireless keyboard will be required for older students, the Times notes.

The contract will also include a 3-year warranty against damage and the company will replace tablets for up to 5% value of the contract.

A Microsoft representative urged the board to try more than one product and not to rely on one platform. Doing so could cut off the district from future price reductions and innovations, said Robyn Hines, senior director of state government affairs for Microsoft.

But district staff countered that Apple offered the superior product. They also said that students and teachers often change schools and should not have to learn a different platform.

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