The Los Angeles Unified School Board on Tuesday unanimously approved a $30 million contract to buy iPads for 30,000 students. The second largest district in the nation plans to go on and equip every student with Apple's popular tablet device within the next 14 months.
The district will pay $678 per iPad which comes equipped with a case and pre-loaded education software. Apple will also replace any lost or stolen iPads, the LA Daily News reports. The ambitious phase 1 of Superintendent John Deasy's Common Core Technology Project will have a large impact on the district's large low income and Latino student population who may not be able to afford the tablet technology.
Almost 74 percent of LAUSD students are Latino, 10 percent black, 8.8 percent white and 3.9 percent Asian. Approximately 80% of district's students qualify for free- or reduced-priced meals, according statistics provided by the LAUSD.
Deasy says his plan is part of an effort to make to make "LAUSD K-12 students competitive with the best school districts in the country." A study released last year found kindergarteners in Maine using the iPad scored higher on literacy tests and were more engaged in the classroom than fellow schoolmates who did not use the tablet technology.
The iPads may also help increase the number of black and Latino teens with access to the internet--a Pew study released earlier this year found 88 percent of Latino teens have access to the internet compared to 98 percent of white teens.
The district is facing some criticism from those who say the money would be better spent on reducing class sizes.
"UTLA is certainly not against technology for students, but we believe there needs to be a larger discussion about spending priorities," United Teachers Los Angeles union president President Warren Fletcher said in a statement. "For $30 million, 352 teachers could be hired — which would go a long way to reducing class sizes."
A Microsoft representative also criticized the district's move, telling the L.A. Times, the "one-size-fits-all approach" would limit important options.
The district's current school year enrollment for Kindergarden to 12th grade includes more than 655,000 students, according to the LAUSD's statistics.
The L.A. Daily News reports affiliated charter schools will also be part of the iPad purchase program.