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Maine schools feel misled on laptop program


Some local school officials say the governor’s plan to expand Maine’s laptop program from middle to high schools comes with more strings attached than advertised, reports the Portland Press Herald. State officials touted the plan as a voluntary initiative that would not require additional funding when it was rolled out earlier this month. But some school officials say the expansion is not as it was portrayed. The state will take laptops from high school teachers whose districts do not participate, they say. And though the initiative wouldn’t require a state funding increase, they say school districts would need more staff to manage the computers–new local costs amid a recession. The issue hit home last week in Westbrook, where school board members voted to create a $49,000-a-year staff position to manage laptops at the high school. Members created the job as they finalized a $32.9 million budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The spending plan would eliminate 10 other staff positions. Superintendent Stanley Sawyer said the additional technician will help set up the laptops and troubleshoot problems. "It’s unrealistic to get 800 computers next year and not hire an additional technician to help deploy those," Sawyer said…

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