Los Angeles Unified School District 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 L.A.’s 720 square miles, and by choosing Apple as the sole vendor, the school board has committed to spend “hundreds of millions of dollars” with Apple over the next few years, the LA Times said.
“Education is in Apple’s DNA and we’re thrilled to work with Los Angeles Unified public schools on this major initiative as they plan to roll out iPads to every student across 47 campuses this fall,” Apple senior VP Philip Schiller said in a statement. “Schools around the world have embraced the engaging and interactive quality of iPad with nearly 10 million iPads already in schools today.”
Apple is selling the iPads, preloaded with education software, for $678 each with a three-year warranty that includes free replacement machines for up to 5 percent of the value of the contract. Retail price for the 32GB 4th-generation iPads is $599.
At $678, providing iPads for all students over the next few years will cost L.A. Unified a whopping $433,920,000.
That’s a significant amount of money for a district with a history of financial problems. A Google search for “L.A. Unified budget” displays three autocomplete results, and two of them have the word “cuts” in them. The school board has just recently approved a $6.2 billion budget 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 arguably are also 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 Board voted unanimously for Apple because iPad rated the best in quality, was the least expensive option and received the highest scoring by the review panel that included students and teachers,” Jaime Aquino, Deputy Superintendent of Instruction, said. “The vote is another step forward in the District’s plan to equip every one of its students with a device by 2014. When completed, the LAUSD will become the largest district in the nation to provide each of its students with the technology.”
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. One thing that isn’t included in the contract is keyboards, which will likely be useful, particularly for high schoolers.
The on-board software includes Apple’s iWorks productivity suite, iLife, and iTunes, as well as other educational apps. In addition, Pearson’s new Common Core System of Courses, an integrated solution with digital classes based around core standards, is included. Those courses were built with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
L.A. Unified superintendent John Deasy left the board meeting prior to consideration of the contract because, he said, he owns a small amount of Apple stock and 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: