In a late-night deal striking a middle ground between opposing motions, the L.A. Unified school board on Tuesday approved the purchase of 70,000 more iPads and to equip seven high schools with laptops.
Under the plan, the district will both move forward with expanding the program and study the effectiveness of both devices before deciding how to equip the remaining students.
Board member Steve Zimmer also requested that the contract with Apple be reevaluated. At $768 for each iPad with software, Zimmer said the district didn't get a great deal.
Superintendent John Deasy agreed to an internal reevaluation of the contract.
Upon approval of the Bond Oversight Committee and the board, the newest batch of iPads will head to 36 schools and every teacher and administrator in the district. Board member Monica Ratliff expressed doubt that another computer option could be fairly considered once all staff is working on Apple devices, but she voted for the motion. It passed 6-1, with Tamar Galatzan dissenting.
L.A. Unified is the second largest school district in the country behind New York. Its initiative to equip every student with a tablet is the largest in the nation.
The original plan was to use school construction bonds to finance the purchase of the devices and corresponding network upgrades — but as costs have grown, the plan has called for tapping the general fund more and more.
If the board were to approve the full $1 billion rollout, it would also have to set aside a greater portion of its overall budget for support staff. Administrators are requesting 300 IT and technology trainers — along with greater electricity, Internet and other implementation costs.
District administrators have said the iPad program is vital for schools to move into new Common Core State Standards.