The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is the largest in California and the second largest in the United States. In the 2011-12 school year, LAUSD housed more than 600,000 students. The enormous school district could be considered a “taste maker” when it comes to enacting new programs that others in the nation might follow. Yesterday, the L.A. Times reported that Apple won a $30-million contract from the LAUSD to provide every student with an iPad.
According to the L.A. Times, the Board of Education voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve the contract that will ultimately create a commitment on the part of the school district to spend hundreds of millions of dollars with Apple over the next two years.
Deputy Supt. Jaimee Aquino told the L.A. Times that Apple’s iPad “received the highest scoring by the students and teachers” who tested out different devices.
Of course, the entire affair was met with opposition from teachers unions and tech companies alike. One teachers union president proposed that resources would be better spent on rehiring needed staff. However, money spent on staff hiring comes from a completely different fund. So, even if the LAUSD didn’t buy a single iPad, they still could not use money from the facilities and inventory fund to hire new staff.
Microsoft was at the Board of Education meeting as well, pushing for the Board to rethink offering an exclusive contract to Apple. Microsoft’s senior director of state government affairs told the Board that it would not be in schools’ best interest to rely on one platform because it would cut off the District from future price reductions and innovations.
Even though there were considerable trepidations regarding approval of the contract, Aquino stood behind the decision. “I can sleep tonight with my conscience clear that you did the right thing for the kids.”
Because the LAUSD is such a large school district, it is the perfect test market to determine if iPad programs are worth investing in. If the program goes well and ultimately saves the school district money over years, it could be the argument other districts can point to when requesting funding for their own iPad program.