If things work out, Apple may close a deal with the state of Maine that makes the company’s previous success with Henrico County, Va. pale by comparison. Maine’s Department of Education
that Apple was selected as the top-scoring bidder for the Maine Learning Technology Wireless Classroom Solution. According to the state’s own projections, this could lead to sales for Apple of more than 30,000 systems.
“The vision behind the endowment is very simple: to provide the tools and training necessary to ensure that Maine’s students become one of the most digitally capable groups in the world,” states the Maine Learning Technology Endowment (MTLE) Web site. “With the change at both the national and state level to an economy and society that focuses more on knowledge and intellectual ability instead of brawn and manpower, its imperative that a major part of all students’ education focus on developing these skills.”
Maine’s Department of Education put out a request for proposals in mid-September for a four-year agreement to provide seventh and eighth grade students and faculty with portable, wireless computers, wireless networks, teacher training and related services. Apple came out on top. The state noted that the award is conditional, “subject to successful negotiation of an agreement and State Purchases Review Committee approval.” But in making the announcement, the Maine Department of Education indicated that it plans to negotiate final terms with Apple.
“The Department was fortunate to receive several high-quality bids. Apple Computer prevailed in a competitive contest. We look forward to negotiating with Apple to close this deal. A successful agreement will benefit Maine schools by a tremendous partnership with one of the world’s leading educational technology companies,” said Joanne Steneck. Steneck is Project Director of the Maine Learning Technology Endowment.
The plan’s guidelines call for all seventh grade students and teachers to be equipped with portable wireless systems by the Fall of 2002. Eighth grade students and teachers will be equipped in 2003.
Apple revised the iBook earlier this year, and during the product introduction the computer maker announced that it had sold the state of Virginia’s Henrico County public school system 23,000 iBooks for their students and teachers. The potential for this latest effort with the Maine Department of Education could be an even bigger windfall: In its request for proposals offered earlier this year, the MTLE projected that in the peak year of the contract, up to 3,000 teachers will need their own computers, along with 33,045 seventh and eighth grade students.
The state’s governor, leaders in the legislature, and the Department of Education plan to issue a formal announcement and full comment in several weeks, once the negotiations have been completed.