South Dakota Gov. Bill Janklow has sent a letter to school superintendents saying that any delays in computer shipments from the state were necessary to get a good deal.

The governor announced a plan in July to send 15,000 Gateway computers and 1,040 Apple computers to schools in the state. But when some school officials complained that the shipments took too long to arrive, Janklow decided to explain the delay.

In his letter to the superintendents, Janklow said the state saved money—and got “one heck of a deal”—by waiting to buy the computers.

Janklow said his original plan was to spend $9 million on 9,000 computers. But by waiting, computer prices dropped and the state cut a deal to buy the 16,040 computers for only $8.14 million, he said.

Janklow’s plan allowed schools to receive computers based on student enrollment, but schools had to agree to sign a waiver stating that they would still spend the money they had budgeted for technology.

In his letter, Janklow said it wasn’t the waivers that held up shipment of computers. After the deal was announced July 3, it took some time to complete deals with Gateway and to process schools’ upgrade requests, he said.

On a more positive note—and in a separate venue—Janklow told educators the number of South Dakota schools that use the state’s Distance Learning Network to offer courses has more doubled in just one year. This year 96 schools are offering courses using the network, up from 46 schools in 2000, Janklow said.