LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Unified School District moved on to Phase 2 of a $1 billion bond-funded program to provide all students with iPads with the purchase of 45,000 devices last week.
The program experienced a several month delay after board members voted in November to slow the roll-out of the devices intended for all 640,000 students at the district's 786 K-12 schools following a series of missteps.
The roll-out had been overshadowed by news reports that 340 students at three schools defeated the device's security firewalls to access social media. The district immediately adopted a policy restricting students from taking the iPads home.
Union officials and parents also have questioned the $768 cost of the tablets, made by Apple Inc., and the use of long-term school bonds to pay for them.
The program was further delayed after long-time school board member, Marguerite LaMotte, 80, died on Dec. 5, while attending a meeting of the California School Boards Association in San Diego.
School board members voted Jan. 14 to purchase 45,000 devices for the second phase using $114 million in voter-approved bond funds to continue with Phase 2 of the iPad rollout. District officials also decided that they will pause after devices from the second phase are distributed to evaluate the effectiveness of the program before moving on with subsequent phases.
The assessment will include feedback from teachers, students, parents and other key stakeholders, according to district officials.
Superintendent John Deasy called purchase of the devices "another step forward in the district's plan to equip every one of our students with a personal computing device to help our students succeed in the 21st century."
Last February, the board approved selling $50 million in bonds to pay for the first phase of the planned multi-year roll-out. Students at 47 of the district's schools received devices in August 2013 from that phase.
District officials have said previously they planned to issue $678 million in bonds this year using up the remaining capacity under voter-approved Measure R and Y to fund the program. Officials wouldn't comment on what decisions have been made regarding selection of a finance team; or whether changes have been made to the expected issuance amount as a result of changes to the program.
The district also negotiated a reduction in the price from $699 to $504 each by cutting out curriculum software that was going to be loaded on the devices for use in state testing. The district also purchased keyboards for the tablets in both phases of the program.