Writing for Wired News , Katie Dean reports a US$180 million budget deficit in the state of Maine may impact the recently implemented laptop computer program, which centers on providing iBooks to every seventh and eighth grader in the state.
Late last year, Maine signed a four year contract with Apple worth more than $37 million which provides iBooks and wireless network access to all middle schoolers and teachers in the state. With Maine affected by a budget crisis, some state legislators appear to be looking for ways to trim the program to put state money elsewhere.
The program, part of the Maine Learning Technology Endowment, has been met with criticism and skepticism since it was still on the drawing board — some questioned whether putting laptops in seventh and eighth graders’ hands was necessary, and others question the use of Mac-compatible laptops specifically.
State governor Angus King — a big proponent of the program — downplayed the controversy. King said that the budget problems his state is facing wouldn’t affect the implementation of the plan; although he confesses that state representatives may “pull some of that future money that’s sitting in the bank.”
So far, nine middle schools in the state have been outfitted with iBooks; they are serving as demonstration schools for the rest of Maine, and Gov. King said that the success of the program thus far is “just unbelievable.” A school administrator quoted by Dean reiterated King’s enthusiasm, indicating that they have “nothing but success stories” to report.