Politics

May 29, 2013

LePage looked at ending school laptop program

He doubted its value to schools but was persuaded to let it continue, the Press Herald learns from emails as districts deal with related headaches.

By Colin Woodard cwoodard@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

click image to enlarge

Sixth-grade teacher Lisa Hatch works with Emmanuel Iglesias Tuesday, May 27, 2013, on a laptop during class at King Middle School. The class uses laptops that are seven or eight years old.

Derek Davis / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Sixth-graders work on laptop computers Tuesday, May 27, 2013, during class at King Middle School. Gov. Paul LePage considered shutting down Maine's school laptop program last fall, newly revealed e-mails show.

Derek Davis / Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

Related Documents

PDF: Bowen's 2011 e-mail about Windows-based laptops
PDF: Bowen's pitch to LePage: Keep laptops
PDF: Bowen responds to LePage's comments

"Let's find out what (we) might be able to do with this program before we shut it down completely," he wrote, making an argument that apparently won the day.

The emails are among more than 1,000 pages of correspondence acquired via public records requests. Some of the emails were requested by the Maine Education Association -- a teachers union that opposes much of LePage's education agenda -- and provided to the Press Herald.

Bennett said Tuesday that LePage "was interested in learning more about the MLTI program and had multiple conversations with Commissioner Bowen relative to the best approach moving ahead with it."

She said the governor "has no specific concerns with non-Windows systems" and "understands that the majority of systems used by businesses are Windows-based."

Emails indicate that LaPage long wanted to get schools to replace their Apple computers with Windows-based ones.

In December 2011, Bowen wrote to LePage to respond to a comment "regarding moving to Microsoft Windows-based laptops" for the program.

Bowen explained that the state was then in the middle of its multi-year contract with Apple so it couldn't "make any changes to the existing program right away."

Bowen advised LePage that they would issue a new request for proposals in late 2012. "I will check with the (Attorney General's) office, but I don't think we can specify in the RFP which operating system the machines would have," he wrote. "I think we lay out what we want the machines to do for kids and schools, and the bidders will come forward with whatever solution they have."

Apple and other vendors "would complain that we were not conducting a truly open bid if we say the machines have to run a Windows operating system," he wrote.

LePage ultimately chose the Windows-based HP laptop even though it was more expensive and had been scored significantly worse than the Apple iPad bid by the Education Department's bid evaluators.

He noted that it was the lowest-priced Windows option, and that Windows is "commonly used in the workplace in Maine" and should therefore be the technology students use.

Colin Woodard can be contacted at 791-6317 or at:

cwoodard@pressherald.com 


Corrections: This story was revised at 9:41 a.m., May 29, 2013, to correct a quote by Adrienne Bennett regarding non-Windows operating systems.

This story was revised at 7:24 a.m., May 29, 2013, to state that the Education Department's revised policy will raise South Portland School Department's cost for using iPads by $55,000 over the life of the four-year contract, according to Andrew Wallace, the department's director of technology.

The story also was revised to correctly quote Education Department spokeswoman Samantha Warren, who said the laptop program "needed to offer flexibility and ... the solution needed to better align with the business world our schools are preparing students for."

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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Sixth-grader Cole McGhie works on a laptop computer, Tuesday, May 27, 2013, during class at King Middle School. Gov. Paul LePage considered shutting down Maine's school laptop program last fall, new e-mails show.

Derek Davis / Staff Photographer

  


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