Former Cobb County commissioner Butch Thompson filed a lawsuit earlier this week to stop in its tracks a program that would put thousands of Apple iBooks in the hands of Georgia schoolkids and teachers. At issue is how the funds for the program have been allocated and how voters were informed.
The iBook lease plan was approved by the Cobb County School District
early last month. The first phase of the “Power to Learn” program puts 17,000 iBooks in the hands of teachers across the district and at four “demonstration site” high schools. The rollout to teachers has already begun.
If the plan succeeds, 63,000 iBooks could ultimately find their way into the hands of Cobb County schoolkids. That would make Cobb County’s “Power to Learn” program the largest ever one-to-one computer learning initiative, according to Apple.
Cobb County School District PR director Jay Dillon explained to MacCentral that the
money for the program was taken a tax revenue program in Georgia called Special Purpose Location Option Sales Tax, or SPLOST. The state of Georgia allows individual counties like Cobb to levy an extra sales tax of up to two percent to fund capital improvements in the county, including the purchase of new computer systems.
Thompson claims that the language of a tax override passed in 2003 that helped fund the program was not specific enough to fully inform voters who approved the measure. School officials at the time purportedly promised to replace obsolete computer workstations, but Thompson contends that it wasn’t spelled out to voters that the money would be used to lease laptops.
“I didn’t vote for laptops for every student in the county, and I don’t think anyone else did. In essence, they took funds designated for one purpose and used it for something else,” Thompson told the Associated Press .