By Howard Blume. Los Angeles Times | http://lat.ms/1awjkeF
In Perris, Pinacate Middle School students Raul Curil, 13 and Marco Fuentes, 12, in Mark Synnott's journalism class, work on Chromebook devices producing their electronic newspaper, the Puma Press. (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times / December 6, 2013)
January 12, 2014, 4:51 p.m. :: The Los Angeles Unified School District is conducting a survey to determine what other districts pay for technology just as the Board of Education is scheduled to vote Tuesday on the next phase of a $1-billion program to provide computers to every student.
The survey has gone out to 21 of the largest school districts in the nation and to another 40 districts in California, said Hugh Tucker, deputy director of facilities contracts for L.A. Unified. Tucker disclosed the survey in a district meeting last week.
Earlier this month, The Times reported that L.A. Unified was paying among the highest prices, based on a cross-section of school districts contacted by the newspaper. The nation’s second-largest school system is paying $768 per device for its students, teachers and administrators. The reason is that L.A. Unified selected a relatively costly product — a higher-end Apple iPad — and also paid for a new math and English curriculum that is installed on the tablets.
District officials have insisted that, within the context of what it sought, it received the best product for the best price.
The Perris Union High School District is paying $344 per device, but its Chromebooks lack a touchscreen, for example, which was a requirement established by L.A. Unified. Perris Union, located in Riverside County, also elected to assemble curriculum on its own, using materials developed by staff as well as from free or low-cost sources. L.A. Unified opted instead to use the Pearson firm to develop a comprehensive online curriculum that is matched to new learning standards adopted by California and 44 other states.
The new exams, which don't count this year, have to be given on computer. Starting next year, when the results will matter, school systems will have the option of paper-and-pencil versions for three years.