Months after the Stillwater, Minn. school board announced plans to introduce iBooks to junior high students in that town, there’s still fallout: The Stillwater Gazette reports that the school board
will go ahead with the plan despite opposition, because the cost of backing out of the contract with Apple would prove too expensive.
In late September the school board
first announced plans to give every junior high student and teachers at Oak-Land and Stillwater junior highs. The US$2.85 million proposal was met with resistance by local residents, however.
Barely a week later, it was reported that the iBook program
would be scaled back to 1,130 students and teachers, costing the town about $1.7 million spread over five years.
The downsizing of the plan
wasn’t enough to save the positions of three incumbent school board members, however. Mary Cecconi, Christy Hlavacek and John Uppgren all lost their seats on the school board in last month’s elections — write-in candidates with anti-laptop agendas replaced them. Now it appears that Minn. District 834 will proceed with the plan after all.
“Let’s get behind this, hope like hell it works and go with it,” said one school board member. His comments came after it was decided by attorneys hired by the district that “the contract is valid, that it should remain in place,” otherwise the district could be liable to the tune of $600,000, or about one-third of what they planned to outlay for the complete laptop program to begin with.
The new school board members who campaigned against the laptop program now say that while the previous school board spent the district’s technology unwisely, they’ll now support the laptop initiative.
The district’s director of administrative services and technology takes a more optimistic view — he thinks that once people see it in action, “it will sell itself.”
Similar iBook initiatives have been put into action in Maine, Illinois and Virginia, and while they haven’t been without controversy, they’ve received praise and accolades as well.