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Apple Poised to Win Big L.A. School District Technology Contract

Apple Inc. has been recommended to receive a lucrative contract from the Los Angeles Unified School District to begin implementing one of the most ambitious education-technology projects in the country, with the city's school board scheduled to vote on the issue next week.

A selection committee that reviewed applications for the project has called for the board to vote at its meeting Tuesday to select the Silicon Valley company from the 13 proposals submitted for the project, according to a report to be presented to the panel.

If approved, the decision would award Apple $30 million to begin a project to provide the nation's second largest school district with one computing device for every student and teacher in 47 schools. But the contract could eventually prove much larger, because the district has called for eventually providing a device for every student in the 660,000-student system, a project expected to cost $500 million.

In a memo to the board, Mark Hovatter, the system's chief facilities executive, said the initial phase of work will include providing computing devices, storage and charging stations, a learning management system, upgrades to local area networks, and other services. The overall scope of the first phase of the technology project is expected to cost $50 million.

All of the work is designed to support the district's transition to implementing the Common Core State Standards, and the creation of an "individualized, interactive, and information-rich learning environment," he said.

The selection committee, made up of more than 30 individuals, reviewed and scored the proposals, and students and teachers at three sites tested various companies' devices, Hovatter told the board.

While Hovatter said the board had already given him the authority to implement the first phase of the district's technology project, he was asking the panel to approve the contract with Apple "due to the high-profile nature of the contract, and to ensure transparency and minimize confusion," he wrote in the memo.

The list of companies putting forward proposals included some of the biggest names in communications and technology, such as AT&T, Google, IBM, and McGraw-Hill, according to a list provided by the facilities services division. Just three proposals were deemed to fall in the "competitive range" during the review and were thus asked to provide best and final offers, based on price and revisions to their original proposals.

The district's request for proposals from bidders asked them to provide a relatively broad range of integrated tech services to the district, Hovatter told Education Week earlier this year. Companies seeking to work with the district on the project were expected to meet, and ideally exceed the technology requirements necessary to align with the common core.

Originally published on the Marketplace K-12 blog.

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