Nearly half of Maine high schools would likely participate in an expansion of the state’s laptop initiative, but another 42 percent are on the fence and 11 percent have decided against it, reports the Kennebec Journal. Those results of a state education department survey were revealed during a hearing April 15 on Gov. John Baldacci’s proposal to expand the Maine Learning Technology Initiative into high schools. Lawmakers are debating the initiative’s expansion as part of the 2010-11 biennial budget. The state needs legislative approval before it can sign a four-year, $75 million contract with Apple Inc. The hearing brought out more than a dozen supporters of the laptop expansion, as well as a few critics concerned about the initiative’s cost. Allie Bouchard, a freshman at Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham, said students entering high school have struggled after giving up the laptops they’ve become accustomed to in seventh and eighth grades. "You go from being so used to them and so dependent on them to back to the drawing board," she said. "A laptop opens up many doors for information and resources in general." Officials say the expansion can be done using existing resources meant to cover schools’ technology expenses. But many school districts have said growing the program would incur staffing and networking costs that must be covered locally…

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