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LAUSD Approves Phase 1 Districtwide 1:1 iPad Initiative

Students at 47 Los Angeles area schools will receive iPads when they return to school in September, and by the fall of 2014, every K-12 student and teacher in the district should have a device.

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education has unanimously approved $50 million for phase 1 of its Common Core Technology Project Plan (CCTPP), of which $30 million is earmarked for iPad devices, and the other $20 million for equipment, software, and staff to support the implementation.

Phase 1 of the project will begin in the fall of 2013, and the district will evaluate the program at 47 schools that semester before requesting funding for the remaining phases. If approved, phase 2 will roll out iPads at an additional 200 schools in the second semester, starting in January 2013. Phase 3 will see the implementation of the devices at the district's remaining schools at the start of the 2014 school year, according to Mark Hovatter, chief facilities executive for the district.

While the $50 million is for phase 1 of the project only, much of the $20 million in infrastructure and support costs will also support phases 2 and 3. "For every $30 million worth of iPads we buy, we don't spend another $20 million of support," said Hovatter.

The support systems include secure lock-up carts where devices can be stored and charged overnight; upgrades to the wireless network infrastructure to ensure every classroom is covered by a wireless access point; security tagging of each iPad, so it can be tracked by GPS if it is lost or stolen; and extra staff to distribute and manage the devices and provide training.

The district is spending $678 on each iPad — more than the devices cost in stores — because they will be preloaded with educational software, including the Pearson Common Core System of Courses, iWork, and numerous third-party apps.

The 47 schools selected for phase 1 of the implementation are those with the least access to educational technology right now. "We selected the schools that we believe had the greatest technology gap, the students that would have the least access to these devices if not through our school system," said Hovatter. The district reported that if it can make the program work for that target group of students first, then it will have the best chance of success districtwide.

According to Mónica García, president of the LAUSD Board of Education, the initiative will help student achievement in the district. “This is good for kids to accelerate academic achievement, close the digital divide, and increase personalization,” said García in a prepared statement.

The district went through a six-month selection process before deciding on the iPads. "We identified the minimum requirements of the devices, the performance capabilities, and then established selection criteria and put out a request for proposal nationwide," said Hovatter. The district received 13 proposals, many of which included numerous device options. After shortlisting three proposals, the district finally settled on the iPads.

“The board voted unanimously for Apple because iPad rated the best in quality, was the least expensive option, and received the highest scoring by the review panel that included students and teachers,” said Jaime Aquino, deputy superintendent of instruction for LAUSD, in a prepared statement. “The vote is another step forward in the district’s plan to equip every one of its students with a device by 2014. When completed, the LAUSD will become the largest district in the nation to provide each of its students with the technology.”

Los Angeles Unified School District is the second largest public school district in the country. It operates 786 schools serving more than 650,000 K-12 students and employs nearly 26,000 K-12 teachers.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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