With the personal computer industry facing a slowdown, school districts are finding that computer manufacturers are so eager for sales they are willing to discuss major price breaks--if the district can commit to large volumes of purchases.

A look at the largest such deal inked yet--between Hillsborough (Fla.) County Schools and Compaq Computer Corp.--shows the positives and negatives of these arrangements.

The deal: By dangling the offer of exclusive purchases


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