Maine opens its school laptop contract to other states

iPads are one of five mobile learning devices available through the contract.

The only state to provide laptops to public school students statewide on March 14 said the contract it’s negotiating for new mobile learning devices can be used by other states if they’re interested in following suit.

Maine has zeroed in on five different laptops and tablets as it prepares to replace more than 35,000 Apple laptops in middle schools and about the same number in high schools this fall. The state expects to pay between $217 and $314 annually per unit, depending on which device is chosen.

This will be the third time devices have been upgraded since Maine began providing laptops to public middle schools students 11 years ago. The program since has expanded into half of Maine’s high schools.

“There’s always a little bit of excitement around new gear. Everyone loves new stuff,” Maine Learning Technology Policy Director Jeff Mao said from his Augusta office.

With Maine’s current four-year lease expiring, the state worked through the National Association of State Procurement Officials to hammer out a contract that can serve as a model for other states.

Vermont and Hawaii joined in the discussions, and a half-dozen other states have shown varying levels of interest, Mao said.

By leveraging additional buying power, the number of companies offering bids for devices to be distributed this fall increased eight-fold compared to the last time the state put out a request.

Maine, Vermont, and Hawaii selected five bids out of 16 that were offered: four-year leases with annual costs of $217 for an iPad, $273 for the MacBook Air, $254.86 for an HP Probook, $314.28 for an HP ElitePad, and $294 for a CTL 2go Classmate PC with swivel screen and stylus. That would be the cost for a state-run program; others could be more costly.

(Next page: What’s included in the cost)

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