Maine to Expand Mac Laptop Program to 100,000 Students

The state of Maine is taking one of the country's most aggressive laptops-for-students programs in the country and expanding it to all of the state's 100,000 students from 7th grade through 12th grade. The AP reports that the state plans on rolling out the program through all of its 7th-12th grade schools by the Fall of 2009.

Maine's initial program for getting iBooks into the hands of 7th and 8th graders was a high profile deal for then-perceived-as-struggling Apple in 2001 -- it was eventually signed into law in 2002. It has been challenged along the way, deemed a success and expanded a couple of times, but the new program completes the process of making sure every child in the state has access to a computer.

The deal includes a four-year lease with Apple that will cost approximately US$242 per laptop per year, or roughly $25 million a year. The laptops will specifically be Apple's entry level white MacBooks. The deal hasn't been finalized, but Education Department David Connerty-Marin expects the above-mentioned prices to be reached.

In his State of the State address Tuesday, Governor John Baldacci said he believes the laptop program will reach beyond just the children involved, turning it, "into a powerful tool for the entire family."

The laptops will be equipped with software that connects to Maine's career centers. Governor Baldacci said, "Every night when students in seventh through 12th grade bring those computers home, they'll connect the whole family to new opportunities and new resources."