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Los Angeles USD iPad program vastly over budget, report says

updated 10:42 am EDT, Fri October 25, 2013

School district has yet to meet order threshold for promised discount

The Los Angeles Unified School District is running well over budget in its plan to equip 47 schools with iPads, the Los Angeles Times reports. The program was originally budgeted for $50 million, but this was based on an early iPad pricing estimate putting each tablet at $650; in all $20.3 million was budgeted for iPads, the rest going to needed training and infrastructure. When the program was formally announced this summer iPad pricing had already crept up to $678, and budget disclosures now reveal that the District is actually paying about $770 per device, adding another $4 million to the program's cost.

The trouble is that the USD will only be eligible for the $678 pricetag from Apple once it spends $400 million, the equivalent of 520,000 iPads. The current pilot initiative calls for just 31,000 iPads. The District is eventually expected to reach the $400 million mark, which will bring costs back in line.

Although a 9.7-inch Pad starts at $399 at retail, the school is paying more per unit in order to cover the costs of cases, training, three-year warranties, and one Apple TV for every 20 students.

The program has been controversial since the beginning, mostly because of concerns about whether or not such a massive investment in gadgets was the best use of the money. In September, though, some students discovered how to bypass security restrictions on the iPads, giving them the freedom to browse any website. In response, the District banned students from taking the tablets home, and some schools confiscated the tablets until they could find a way of reimposing barriers.

by MacNN Staff



  1. pairof9s

    Senior User

    Joined: 01-03-08

    Guess "volume discount" is not part of Apple's dictionary. $400 mil!

  1. Inkling

    Senior User

    Joined: 07-25-06

    Quote: "Although a 9.7-inch Pad starts at $399 at retail, the school is paying more per unit in order to cover the costs of cases, training, three-year warranties, and one Apple TV for every 20 students."

    Given that an Apple TV only costs about $100, supplying one for every 20 students only amounts to $5 of that $370 in additional costs. Cases can be bought for under $10. And it's hard to believe that they're paying almost as much for AppleCare as another iPad would cost. Do these kids need much training? Anyone who's seen how they take to touch devices knows that isn't so. Some of them broke the 'protections' built into these iPads in a matter of hours.

    That leaves the great bulk of this almost doubling of the cost devoted to teaching the teachers. And if they're that techno-phobic and techno-illiterate, it's difficult to imagine how they're going to adapt their teaching to use these iPads.

    More and more, this scheme is looking like a bad idea. At the very least, LA should have run some trials before they threw away these tens of millions. And that perhaps suggests that some of the responsibility for the dismal state of LA schools rests with its administrators.

  1. psdenno

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 05-06-03

    Well said. School districts easily forget that it's the magician and not the wand that makes the magic happen. Spend the money on more teachers, smaller classes, and parenting classes and scores will improve.

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-11-08

    I highly doubt that the training mentioned involves teaching the children how to use a touch-screen device and how to use a touch screen device alone.

    More than likely, the training will include staff training on how to use the devices, how to use specific academia-related apps, how best to engage material using the iPads, how to charge them on a multi-dock system, how to store and transport them, and a whole slew of other things. it's not just how to touch a screen, it's how to completely incorporate them into the classroom -- things beyond just how to touch a screen when they're in use.

    And before you go saying that everyone already knows how to charge an iPad, remember that "training" doesn't mean "teaching someone how to do something from the ground up." Just like you already know how to use a computer, that doesn't mean that getting a job somewhere means you need no training on the computer... you'll still receive training, but it will be on how computers are used specifically in that position, best-practice habits, and how to use company-specific applications and adhere to company-specific policies and procedures.

    You guys are making it sound like they could just skip the training and dump 50 iPads in each classroom and tell the students and teachers, "Here you go, have at it!"

  1. loco

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 01-17-04

    Seriously? Since when is 8% off mark VASTLY over budget?

  1. The Vicar

    Junior Member

    Joined: 07-01-09


    When the budget is big enough that 8% of it is a vast sum.

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