Every student in the nation’s second-largest school district will soon be sporting an Apple iPad.
L.A. Unified will initially roll out the program to 47 campuses in a deal worth $30 million. However, the massive district has 640,000 students at 1,087 schools over LA’s 720 square miles, and by choosing Apple as the sold vendor, the school board has committed to spend “hundreds of millions of dollars” with Apple over the next few years, the LA Times said.
Apple is selling the iPads to the school district for $678 each, pre-loaded with educational software, and inclusive of a three-year warranty that includes free replacement machines for up to five percent of the value of the contract. It’s not immediately apparent which model the school has chosen.
At that price, providing iPads for all students over the next few years will cost L.A. Unified a whopping $433,920,000.
Chromebooks start at $249, retail.
That’s a significant amount of money for a district with a history of financial problems — a Google search for “LA Unified budget” displays three auto-complete results, and two of them have the word “cuts” in them — and the school board has just recently approved a $6.2 billion budgets that, for the first time in years, avoids major cuts.
Frankly, it’s a significant amount of money for any school district.
Other options, of course, include Chromebooks, which arguably offer more potential educational value for just $249/device retail, netbooks, which are still available if not desirable, and full-on Windows-based laptops, which also arguably are more versatile than a tablet, and start at $400-500, again at retail.
On the positive side, iPads are powerful, have a ton of educational software available, lend themselves perfectly to a coming electronic textbook and digital media educational world, and are more portable than any laptop.
The contract win for Apple is at the end of a long bid process that included testing and scoring of multiple devices by students and teachers, as well as district office staff. Deputy Superintendent Jaime Aquino said that iPad received the highest scoring in those tests.
One thing that isn’t included in the contract is keyboards, which will likely be useful, particularly for high schoolers.
L.A. Unified superintendent John Deasy, who left the board meeting prior to consideration of the contract because, he said, he owns a small amount of Apple stock, appeared in an promo video for Apple’s iPad which was presented at an Apple event on iBooks textbooks in New York in January, 2012: