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Apple Secures Contract to Bring iPads to Los Angeles District

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The school board of the Los Angeles Unified School District has voted to award a $30 million technology contract to Apple Inc., as part of sweeping project that could ultimately cost $500 million.

The 660,000-student district is phasing in an effort to provide each student with a computing device. The Silicon Valley tech giant will be tasked with distributing iPads in 47 schools, beginning in August, as part of the first phase of the effort.

District officials have described the one-student, one-device effort as a key piece of their plan to implement the Common Core State Standards, and boost schools' and students' overall technological capabilities.

The first phase of the work involves much more than just supplying iPads; it will also include creating storage carts and charging stations throughout the system, as well as infrastructure, monitoring, and mobile device management systems.

The district's goal is to provide all of its students with a device by 2014, and if it does, it will become the largest school system in the country to take that step, Jaime Aquino, the district's deputy superintendent of instruction, said in a statement. Previously, L.A. district officials have said that providing devices to all students in the district could eventually cost as much as half a billion dollars. But they also said this week that they will review the first phase of the tech project, before deciding whether to expand it.

Last week, Education Week reported that Apple had received the recommendation of district staff to secure the lucrative contract. On Tuesday, the board went along with that advice, approving the contract by a 6-0 margin, with one abstention.

One of the board's members, Bennett Kayser, disqualified himself from the measure because he said he holds stock in Apple.

Kayser wasn't the only one who said his investment portfolio prevented him from taking a stance on the contract decision. School Superintendent John Deasy, who does not have a vote on the panel, also said that he did not involve himself in the contract decision because he held a small amount of Apple stock. Deasy left the board's room during his vote, district officials said.

District officials said they received 13 proposals in response to their request for bids. Apple's best and final offer received the highest score and was the lowest price, according to the school system.

Apple officials said they would provide iPads in the L.A. schools that include the "Pearson Common Core System of Courses," delivered through a new app, in addition to other third-party educational apps on the menu.

"[W]e're thrilled to work with Los Angeles Unified public schools on this major initiative," Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said in a statement. "Schools around the world have embraced the engaging and interactive quality of iPad with nearly 10 million iPads already in schools today."

UPDATE: A couple readers have asked me for the names of the 13 companies that were vying for the L.A. contract. Here's the list of names I've been able to confirm, as provided to me by the district's facilities division: A+ Interactive Technologies; Avnet; Apple; Arey Jones; AT&T; Google; IBM, McGraw Hill; Manage Mobility; MNJ Technologies Direct; SHI International, Inc.; Smarty Ants; and Technology Integration Group.

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