Henrico County, Va.’s school board has turned down an offer by Apple to renew and extend its lease on 18,000 iBooks currently in use throughout the school system’s secondary grades, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch . The sticking point was the cost of an opt-out agreement, according to the report. For the short term, this simply means that students returning to Henrico County schools for the 2004 – 2005 academic year will use the same iBooks they had last year.
Apple’s lease agreement with Henrico County expires in June, 2005. The company offered the school system an early trade-in deal that would have retired 18,000 of the older iBooks for 23,000 new ones at the same price as what the county is paying now — more than US$5 million per year — with no up-front cash payment, according to school board Chairman Stuart Myers. Apple’s new lease program would have freed up 5,000 iBooks that could have been used to retire older desktop computers used throughout the school district, according to the report. Myers said that he expects Apple to return to the negotiating table in 2005 with a deal at least as good as what they offered this time around.
In May, 2001 Apple and Henrico County announced what was at the time the single largest sale of education laptops ever — 23,000 in total. The program has been a model for Apple’s one-to-one computing initiative, in which each student has access to his or her own iBook. The Henrico plan has served as a template for other school boards around the country.