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Minnesota school district ends contract with Dell, goes with iPads

updated 01:56 pm EDT, Sun June 1, 2014

Dell to issue credit on money spent, district to use state contract for iPads

After a contract with Dell failed to live up to expectations, a school district in Minnesota has pulled the plug and turned to Apple devices for their students. The St. Paul school district had sought to roll out a new technology initiative with Dell devices for its schools in the 2014-15 school year, but now won't see a full iPad program rollout until 2015-16.

The move to Apple comes after the school district has already spent upwards of $715,000 on the project and a year of time. Funded by a $9 million a year project proposed in 2012, the idea behind the device program was to extend technology to students in a way that promoted learning and communication. Custom software from Dell would have allowed students to see video lessons, take quizzes and access assignments. Teachers would have a way to contact parents and students after hours, while tracking student progress.

"We felt we had been overpromised and underdelivered to," said school board member Jean O'Connell to Pioneer Press.

Dell has agreed to cancel the $4.3 million contract without any penalty to the district. While the company won't be returning the money, they will offer it as credit against future purchases. Part of the funds paid will be kept as part of an evaluation of services and infrastructure at the school district.

Dell agreed with the assessment that parts of the project weren't working out as intended, specifically the custom software that was requested. The company said that the software "will not serve Saint Paul Public Schools students and teachers directly enough of quickly enough to continue investing in that aspect of the project."

Even though there will be a delay in the realization of the full project, some students will be receiving Apple devices in the next school year. Half of the schools in the district, which serves 37,800 students, will get iPads in the fall. Remaining schools will receive devices the following school year.

Apple was chosen due to its use and record with a number of Minnesota school districts. By obtaining the devices under a state contract, Saint Paul Public Schools will be able to replace iPads every three years through a lease. Use of the state contract also allows the school district to move forward without the use of a formal bidding process.

Price for the new contract has yet to be determined, but the device buy is expected to surpass the $2 million budget set aside for this year.

by MacNN Staff



  1. apostle

    Junior Member

    Joined: 04-16-08

    Wasn't the beleaguered Michael Dell going to buy the company back so he could do the only decent thing left, shut the company down and give the money back to the shareholders?

  1. efithian

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-21-04

    Hey Dude, you bought a Dull!

  1. Mr. Strat

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 01-23-02

    An iPad is no substitute for a computer. We have not seen a real useful purpose in the classroom for iPads. There are a significant number of staff people who use them in their department's work, but not so much in the classroom.

  1. Think 4D

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 05-28-08

    Mr. Strat, I'm curious what functionality a laptop brings for students that iPads do not?

  1. Think 4D

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 05-28-08

    I'm really happy to hear that according to the article that they used a "diverse" team of eight administrators and one teacher to make their $4.3 million technology decision. I'm sure that team had the expertise to make informed decisions and come up with a great strategic plan on an extremely complex topic like technology in education. What a great bargain that they're great administrators AND experts in technology!

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