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Apple Scores Major iBook Education Contract For Maine's Public Schools

Apple Scores Major iBook Education Contract For Maine's Public Schools

by , 12:00 PM EST, December 4th, 2001

This little tidbit was first brought to light by the good folks over at MacSlash, and it's some good news for Apple in its battle for the very important education dollars. The State of Maine Division of Purchases and the Maine Department of Education have jointly announced that Apple is the winner of the latest bid process for purchasing portables for the state's schools. The process is not actually over yet, as Maine's press release specifically says that actually negotiations have to now take place and that the bid could be awarded elsewhere. Maine's press release:

The State of Maine Division of Purchases and the Maine Department of Education announced today that Apple Computer, Inc. was selected as the top-scoring bidder for the Maine Learning Technology Wireless Classroom Solution.  The Department issued a request for proposals on September 14, 2001 for a four-year agreement to provide portable, wireless computers, wireless networks, teacher training, and related services to equip all seventh and eighth grade students and teachers as provided by the plan for the Maine Learning Technology Endowment.

This award is a conditional award, subject to successful negotiation of an agreement and State Purchases Review Committee approval.  The Department will now enter into negotiations with Apple Computer, Inc. in order to finalize the terms and conditions of the agreement for the State's Wireless Classroom Solution.  If negotiations are unsuccessful, the Department may enter into negotiations with the next highest scoring bidder.

The Department received several bids.  A scoring team comprising Department personnel, educators, and technical experts reviewed the bids against pre-established criteria, including observation of existing school deployments by the top finalists.

Joanne Steneck, Project Director of the Maine Learning Technology Endowment, commented, “The Department was fortunate to receive several high-quality bids.  Apple Computer prevailed in a competitive contest.  We look forward to negotiating with Apple to close this deal.  A successful agreement will benefit Maine schools by a tremendous partnership with one of the world's leading educational technology companies.”

Under the plan approved by the Legislature for the Maine Learning Technology Endowment, all seventh grade students and teachers will begin using portable, wireless computers in the Fall of 2002, and all eighth grade students and teachers will be equipped the following year.  Today's award announcement is the latest of several steps taken this Fall to move the plan toward reality, including: the creation of a lead project team within the Department; the appointment of an Advisory Board of leading Maine educators and citizens, as required by statute; statewide discussions with middle school teachers, school superintendents and principals; and the design of a teacher development program, with the solicitation of major grant support.

The Governor, Legislative leaders, and the Department of Education will issue a formal announcement and full comment in several weeks upon the conclusion of successful negotiations and the execution of an agreement.

Updates and background information regarding the Maine Learning Technology Endowment are available on the Web site at http://www.state.me.us/mlte.

Perusing the state's Request For Proposal (a PDF file), the contract would require about 30,000 iBooks to be in use for students (some 16,000 the first year), and another 3,000 iBooks for teachers at the same time, during a five year period. From the wording of the contract, it would appear that Apple's job would be to make sure that quantity of computers was available at any given time. In addition, it should be noted that the winning contractor will be providing a wireless network and other services related to the maintenance of the entire shebang. Some 285 school systems could participate, and the program targets only 7th and 8th graders.

The Mac Observer Spin:

This is another major win for Apple in the battle for the education market. 36,000 iBooks and a small fleet of AirPort base stations are a nice chunk of change and a major endorsement for Apple's technology. Also note that the new ability for AirPort base stations to support up to 50 simultaneous connections helps to make Apple's bid a lot more competitive.

Our other stories about major education purchases going to Apple have all dealt with single school systems and individual cities. This particular contract (assuming Apple can go the distance) is for the entire state of Maine. Let's hope that some other states take similar initiatives in the future.

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