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L.A. Now Live: Discuss the latest on L.A. Unified's iPad program

October 23, 2013

Join us at 9 a.m. when we discuss the latest on the L.A. Unified School District’s plans for providing iPads for students with Times reporter Howard Blume.

On Tuesday, district officials acknowledged that they understated the cost of providing iPads to students, but also said the deal could ultimately save millions of dollars.

LAUSD hopes to provide a tablet to every student and teacher, and, for months, has reported the cost as $678 per device. But a revised budget released Monday found that the tablets could cost as much as $770 apiece.

The price of the tablets was one of many budget items that came up at back-to-back L.A. Unified meetings Tuesday. For some key questions, district staff said they had no immediate answers and promised they would be able to report more at a meeting next week.

Among the postponed issues was how the district hopes to pay its technology program. Wait until next week to learn, frustrated panel members were told.

The iPads are being paid for with taxpayer-approved school construction bond funds.

The nation's second-largest school system has described its technology initiative as an "amazing" success, and said few problems have emerged at most of the 40 schools that have received devices to date.

But at three campuses, more than 300 students deleted security filters, allowing them to freely browse the Internet and prompting officials to suspend the use of iPads at these high schools.

Parents also have expressed confusion about their responsibility for the devices. And officials have yet to purchase keyboards that will be necessary to use the iPads on new standardized tests.

If the district follows through with plans to distribute about 650,000 devices, the district's negotiated 3% rebate from Apple will total about $13.5 million, Chief Facilities Executive Mark Hovatter said. 

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