Apple Lands Important Deal for 30,000 iPads in LA Schools

Apple has landed a US$30 million deal to supply 30,000 iPads to Los Angeles schools. The Los Angeles School Board of Education approved the deal Tuesday evening as part of a program to equip all of its students with a tablet iPad over the next 14 months.

iPad in Education

“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,” Jaime Aquino, LAUSD Deputy Superintendent of Instruction, said in a 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.”

The Nuts & Bolts

Apple was stoked enough about this deal to issue a press release. While Apple named the dollar amount for the deal—$30 million—the company didn't announce how many iPads were included. The Daily Breeze, however, pegged the number at 30,000 units.

Some back-of-the-napkin math shows that $30 million for 30,000 iPads is $1,000 per iPad, but The Daily Breeze pegged the actual price at $678 per unit. The total cost also includes the hiring of 15 "facilitators" by the district, as well as maintenance and support, an important aspect of any education deal involving computers.

Software is also included in the price: the iPads will come pre-installed with the Pearson Common Core System of Courses that will be deployed in the form of a new app for the education market. Some unspecified other third party education apps will also be pre-installed, as will Apple's own iWork and iLife suites, and iTunes.

The Vote

The Board voted 6-0 for the deal, with two members abstaining because they own Apple stock. As part of their abstentions, they left the room during the discussion of the deal.

The district received a dozen proposals that were then narrowed to three. One was Apple's, while a solutions provider called Arrey Jones had two separate proposals based on Dell tablets and HP tablets, both of which ran Windows 8.

As noted above, Apple's solution scored higher with everyone and their brother, but a Microsoft representative named Robyn Hines addressed the board, criticizing the decision.

The Irony

Here's the kicker: the MS rep suggested that the Board of Educators split the proposal into two halves, one for Apple's iPad and one for one of the Arrey Jones proposals (The Daily Breeze didn't specify which of the two).

The Board of Educators was having none of it, however, arguing that it would be more expensive to maintain two platforms. Deputy Superintendent Jaime Aquino also said that maintaining one platform would make it easier for kids and teachers to change campuses, and that it would be easier to archive all of the students work and records.

It's a complete 180 degrees from the days when IT departments and some school boards argued the same thing, but as a reason to keep Apple's Macintosh computers out of schools. Oh, sweet irony, you are a harsh mistress.

The Big Picture

As noted above, this is merely the first phase of this program for the L.A. school district. It turns out there are a lot of students in that town, and the Board of Educators wants all of them to have an iPad within 14 months. Not just any tablet, either, an iPad.

Apple sells a lot of iPads already. More than 10 million per quarter for the last several quarters. 30,000 units or $30 million is insignificant to Apple's bottom line, but this is an opportunity for the company to show that a device like the iPad can have a meaningful impact on students and teachers alike when used in a comprehensive approach.

If this program is successful, it will lead to additional iPad sales to other schools throughout the world. That's more units sold and untold numbers of kids who are exposed to Apple devices. More importantly, it will hopefully mean brighter kids who got a better education in the process.

Image made with help and help from Shutterstock.