Skip to comments.Laptops for All Cobb Students? $70 Million.
Posted on 02/12/2005 8:22:21 AM PST by groanup
Cobb County wants to spend nearly $70 million for 63,000 students and teachers to get state-of-the-art Apple laptop computers, complete with Microsoft Word and iTunes.
After months of negotiations, Superintendent Joseph Redden announced the cost and scope of a potential deal with Apple Computer. If the school board approves the first phase of the four-year, $69.9 million proposal, the first iBook G4 laptops would be distributed this spring.
By fall, four high schools would be outfitted as demonstration sites. Within a year, high schoolers could be working with a computer that, at 5 pounds, weighs less than most textbooks. Within three years, each of Cobb's teachers and middle and high school students could have a laptop.
The iBooks would come with Apple's latest operating system, plus Microsoft Office and wireless capability. Software would include Apple's iLife, which could be used to make digital movies, photos and music for school projects through programs like iTunes and GarageBand. The iBooks would be compatible with the school system's existing PCs.
"The kinds of things the students will be using out in the work force today, they'll be using in our schools," said Deputy Superintendent Donald Beers. Part of the cost goes to build a wireless network for schools countywide.
If fully implemented, it would be one of the largest school laptop programs in the country.
Apple would provide seven employees dedicated solely to training and operations, and operate a repair facility in Cobb. The laptops would have a four-year warranty, and the deal includes extra batteries.
Parents would be responsible for insurance, expected to be $50 a year. Redden said the school system's education foundation would work on fund-raising to help low-income families pay for the insurance.
The Cobb school district, which spent months negotiating with companies including IBM and Dell, claims the best price per laptop of any school system in the country: $271.26. Michigan paid $275 per machine in its recent laptop contract with Hewlett- Packard.
Add in the extras Cobb negotiated for including support, training and maintenance and the total cost is about $350 per person. For comparison, the cheapest retail price of the same computer loaded with the same features was $1,248 on apple.com.
John Seral, who has children in Cobb County middle and high schools, said he was "personally convinced this thing will be successful." He learned the details while working on an advisory panel for the school system.
Seral said he believed students would gain skills that have become invaluable in business. "Voice mail is virtually dead in our company," he said. "You have to have a laptop to function."
The Cobb deal would boost Apple's efforts to capture the k-12 education market. Vice President Barry Wright would not say what Apple's market share is, but the company has landed other major initiatives, including the nation's first in Maine and one in Henrico County, Va.
Mark Weston, who worked for Apple three years ago, when it provided laptops to 37,000 students and teachers in Maine, said the Cobb County deal would have people talking.
However, "the technology is just one piece of the equation for enhancing learning and teaching," he said. "The ultimate test will be how everyone uses these incredible tools."
Cobb County will pay for the program's start-up through a 1 percent sales tax voters approved in 2003 and which will expire in three years.
Most school board members seem comfortable with providing teachers with the laptops, but need assurance about the students.
Questions from the public include concerns about online security and at-home use. School officials have set up a Web site and e-mail to address questions and will conduct four information sessions before the board's March 9 vote.
The school system still needs a provider for wireless connectivity, as well as an Internet partner in the community, Redden said.
Proponents of "one computer to one student" point to reports of increased school attendance and fewer discipline problems. They say laptop programs bridge the "digital divide," putting cutting-edge technology in the hands of young people who otherwise could not afford it.
Some researchers, however, say more time is needed to understand the long-term impact of such programs. Critics say the money could be better spent on smaller classes and teacher development.
I ran several searches and didn't see it. If it's a dupe please discard. Thanks.
I'd like an Apple laptop. And a pony.
What--no unicorn? I'm sure the Cobb County School District would go out of their way to accomodate you.
Give me a list and I'll see that the school board gets it.
$350 a laptop is a sweet deal. It will be interesting in time to look back at Cobb County's attempts and see if the program was successful
Most of the teachers are trained on PC.
What happens when batteries die in class?
What happens when all of the computers and software become outdated withing two years?
Where is your homework assignment?
"My computer ate it"
in my opinion parents should be buying the computers. "I" shouldnt be buying a computer for "your" child.
My children don't go to this district. And they have their own laptops.
"Parents would be responsible for insurance, expected to be $50 a year"
I wonder what the year 2 cost will be?
There are several of these programs ongoing in Texas, and they are part of a research program over 4 years: Does technology integration improve student learning? Teachers on at least one campus [and I suspect all of the schools feel the same] where all students [6th, 7th, 8th] have received laptops were sceptical when the program was announced, and are currently displeased because the program, at least for the first year [and this is to be expected during the first year of any program], has disrupted teaching and learning-- training upon training for teachers, academic time lost to student training, one-size-fits-all-subject-areas pronouncements from supervisors, etc.
All I can say is that this is a real money-maker for Apple. OS-X [Jaguar, I think] is a huge improvement over previous OS's, but there are still daily, time-consuming issues-- kids can't log into the system because of some glitch, part of the dock disappears, such-and such program won't let the kid log in, the web filter filters too much, the laptop goes to sleep and won't wake up, kids don't back up their work.... It's a hassle.
For all others desktops are more cost effective and far easier to maintain.
Just let Bill Gates hear about this and they will get Wintel laptops for free.
Part of the reason is Georgia teachers raises are paltry this year and I bet they'd rather get raises than the kids get laptops.
That said I don't know how laptops will help the kids. They need knowledge not computers. The two are not equal.
Seriesly, I smell Apple making a play for market share here. DO they have metal detectors in the school there? Will that mess the macines up?
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