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LA Unified Estimates Costs for Future Digitial Devices

Vanessa Romo | November 4, 2013

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kids-iPadAs LA Unified continues distributing iPads, the district for the first time is providing cost estimates for continuing the program beyond its current end date, December 2015.

And in a presentation planned for tomorrow’s school board meeting, the Common Core Technology Project committee, chaired by board member Monica Ratliff, is also revealing several possibilities for how to pay to keep “mobile devices” coming through the 2018-2019 school year. (See pages 85 and 86 in the powerpoint presentation.)

Curiously, the 95-page presentation mentions iPads only in relation to the district’s current contract with Apple. For 2016 and beyond, the reference is generic, a suggestion that the district will take bids for other companies with less expensive products.

The projections are vague and several variables remain unknown, so it’s impossible to make anything but a general estimate. But one thing is clear, replacing and updating the devices will not be cheap.

The committee estimates that LA Unified will spend up to $252 million buying or upgrading iPads over three years, starting in 2016. That number does not include the cost of on-going iPad maintenance, which is projected to come in just below $12 million for the 2016-17 school year.

Nor does the hefty price tag include fees for refreshing the instructional content designed by Pearson Education Inc. that is pre-loaded onto devices now being distributed. The Pearson software is not expected to undergo major change.

What the cost does reflect is the need for about 100,000 new devices for the 2017-2017 academic year, 250,000 for 2017-2018 and 280,000 for 2018-2019. That’s a total of about 630,000 new devices for the three years.

So how to pay for all of it? The committee is presenting four funding options, according to the presentation.

The first is to use leftover bond money from completed projects. A second possibility is to issue a new bond with legal authority to spend for technology as well as construction and modernization of school facilities. A third idea is to ask the state to issue a stand-alone technology bond. A final option is pulling out $100 per child from the district’s general fund, starting in 2016-17, to fund the technology upgrades.

Previous Posts: LA Unified Principals find iPad rollout not so badLA Unified iPads Could Cost Another $100 EachiPad Problems not Unexpected, says Oversight Panel Chairman.


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