Laptops for schools will cost Idaho more than $180 million

Laptops for schools will cost Idaho more than $180 million

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by Scott Evans

Bio | Email | Follow: @ScottEvansKTVB

KTVB.COM

Posted on October 25, 2012 at 6:30 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 12 at 5:15 PM

BOISE -- Election Day is fast approaching and we're beginning to get more details on the laptops that are part of Proposition 3. A portion of proposition puts a laptop into the hands of high school teachers and students across the state.

Tuesday, the state worked out a deal with Hewlett Packard to provide the computers. HP has provided laptops to school districts across the country before, but this is the first time it's providing computers to an entire state.

The HP 4440s is not your average consumer laptop.

"This is not something you can buy at Best Buy or anywhere else," said Alex Macdonald, who is the Director of Educational Technology for the Idaho Department of Education.

It's a durable, commercial grade laptop, targeted specifically to corporations, ready for heavy use.

The all-aluminum computer has a battery that is meant to last the entire school day. It has a 14-inch screen with a 320 GB hard drive. It will come with 2 GB of RAM. The computer has a drop resistant hard drive and a spill resistant keyboard.

It will also have Windows 7 and Microsoft Office Professional, complete with Word, Excel, Power Point and One Note. One Note is essentially a digital binder that keeps classes separate.

"I can copy, paste links to the websites that I visited in class, or that I researched," said Macdonald.

Each district will load customized software onto the computer so that each high school student has what he or she needs.

"There will be graphing software,” explained Macdonald. “Not only will students be able to graph, but they'll also be able to manipulate and go through and take a look at what happens when I change variables.”

Digital textbooks will also be on the computers.

"They're also able to add their own notes, highlight where they would like, so it really personalizes what they're able to do with these textbooks," said Macdonald.

Other programs include schoolnet and Discovery Education, programs that provide more resources for students. The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation will pay for those programs for three years. The state will then carry that cost.

There will also be filters on the laptops to prevent students from going to prohibited websites while on school grounds. Off school grounds, the computer will have software to monitor the computer. That information will be available to parents and school administrators.

As for the budget and how much this costs, each laptop, including the wireless infrastructure and professional development will cost the state $292.77 per student or teacher per year. Over eight years that's nearly $182 million.

Part of that budget is a $14 million buyout clause. If the state decides to walk away from the contract then it must pay HP $14 million. If the state fulfills the eight-year contract, that $14 million will go back into the state's general education fund.

This all hinges upon Proposition 3 winning voter approval. If it fails, the contract is canceled and there is no penalty for either party.

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