A Tampa, Fla., school district has signed an innovative but controversial agreement with Compaq Computer Corp. that will give the district steep discounts on computers. If the agreement proves successful, it could change the way the nation's major computer manufacturers deal with school systems.

The deal, estimated to be worth more than $50 million, will make Compaq the sole provider of computers and technology services to Hillsborough County Public Schools for a five-year period. It also will allow low-income families to purchase affordable computers for their homes.

"To our knowledge,


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