Maine taps Apple for $37 million school computer pact

Maine taps Apple for $37 million school computer pact

Maine's Education Department has awarded a four-year, $37 million contract to Apple Computer Inc. to equip 33,000 students and 3,000 teachers with iBook notebook PCs and wireless networks, and provide training and technical support. State officials said the contract likely is the largest single purchase ever of personal educational technology.

The state plans to furnish the notebooks to all seventh- and eighth-grade students and teachers in the state's 241 middle schools. Teachers could begin receiving the notebooks in coming weeks, the department said.

Gov. Angus King has advocated the program and pushed through legislation to finance it via a trust fund. The state's budget problems, brought on by the national recession, have prompted criticism for using the trust fund only for education.

As a result, King yesterday announced that he would withdraw $5 million from the trust fund to meet the state's budget shortfall, according to Education Department spokesman Yellow Light Breen.

'The program has had its critics,' Breen said. 'But the remaining monies in the trust fund are enough to fund the contract.'

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