updated 11:45 am EDT, Wed June 23, 2004
Another iBook program
The Quaker Valley school board in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania yesterday approved a $3.1 million contract with Apple to , according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "The school board last night voted 8-0 to approve a $3.1 million contract with Apple Computer Inc. to lease about 1,200 laptop and desktop computers. The four-year lease provides laptops for use at school and at home to students in grades nine to 12. Selected as one of the state's three 'digital school districts' three years ago, Quaker Valley had been providing laptops to students in grades three to 12 for use on a school wireless network and at home. A state grant funded the program."
Superintendent Dr. R. Gerard Longo said the decision to stay with Apple was based on several factors, including Apple's experience in the educational environment, the commitment of Apple to provide an improved level of training and professional development, technical support and maintenance services and on the total cost involved.
"Every proposal was carefully examined and evaluated by our technical staff and by our teachers," said Longo. "What it came down to in the end was a determination as to which proposal would best serve our students, support our educational programs and increase the infusion of the technology into our curriculum. Apple gave us that commitment."
Longo said that the district and Apple both learned from the experiences of the Digital School District project, in which there was an unacceptably high rate of equipment breakdowns and repair costs. The district said that it believes that this issue will be adequately addressed in the new agreement.
The new agreement will bring a reduction iin one-to-one laptop distribution. Beginning this school year, only students in grades 9-12 will receive individual laptops. Under the original Digital School District plan, all students from grades 3-12 received individual laptops--that, however, was changed to grades 4-12 for the 2003-2004 school year. The ratio of the number of computers to the number of students district-wide is expected to be about 2-1 next year, compared to slightly less than one-to-one over the last two years, according to the Quaker Valley School board website.
The amended program will continue to provide all teachers in the two elementary schools, the middle school and the high school individual laptops.
The 2004 agreement also allows the district to acquire new laptops for all incoming ninth grade students in each of years 2-through-4. Graduating seniors will be provided the option of purchasing their laptops before they leave high school. Unpurchased laptops will be recycled to the elementary and middle schools for the remainder of the leasing period. The Board estimates that over the course of the next four years that this could provide as as many as 450 additional "used" for elementary and middle schools, further improving the student-to-computer ratio.