“By giving students new laptops almost six months early, Greene County Schools is saving more than $1 million in computer costs,” Michael Abernethy reports for The Kinston Free Press (North Carolina, USA). “At a special meeting held Monday night at the Greene County Board of Commissioners meeting, the Greene County Board of Education voted to refinance its lease from Apple Computers. The school system will sell its 2,041 existing laptops [prior] to Macworld before the company announces its new product lines Jan. 9, 2006.”

“The change comes at no additional cost to parents. The AppleCare Warranty originally purchased two and-a-half years ago is still good until the summer of 2007,” Abernethy reports. “The computers’ unusually high trade-in value – estimated to bring almost $450,000 to the schools – combined with existing wear and tear on the original laptops made it a good time for the school system to refinance, said Superintendent Steve Mazingo. The threat of bugs in newer-model computers the schools would have to purchase later in the year also made Greene County Schools move early to refresh laptops. The transition should happen quickly but smoothly. The new computers will be readied for use by Apple over the holiday break. The familiar software will also make the trade easy for students and teachers to use in the classroom after the switch.”

Abernethy reports, “Mazingo praised the results of the county’s two- and-a-half-year-old laptop program as a breakthrough. ‘Our test scores are up and more kids are staying in school,’ Mazingo said. ‘Now, we’re looked at with respect – because of 21st-century teaching and learning.’ Greene County Schools still had $1.6 million left to pay in its lease with Apple, with two more years of $800,000 payments. The renegotiated deal adds nearly $1.6 million to that but also saves the system almost as much, said Harvey Gay, Greene County Schools finance officer.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: This is excellent confirmation of the rumors of new Intel-based iBooks coming from Apple at Macworld Expo. Sometimes reports about Apple that come from oblique angles contain the most useful information. The reporter and the superintendent obviously don’t grasp the secrecy that surrounds Apple’s hardware announcements; they don’t seem to know they’re not supposed to tell certain things. Abernethy also doesn’t seem to recognize the scoop he really has in his hands, but we do. To us, it seems pretty clear that Greene County Schools officials were told by their Apple rep(s) that new Intel-based iBooks were coming at Macworld – first generation hardware that may “contain bugs” initially – and offered the latest current PowerPC iBooks if they upgraded right now, before Apple “announces its new product lines Jan. 9, 2006.” Apple also gets to whittle down iBook G4 inventory by another 2,000 or so units. So, there you go, all tied up nicely with a bow.

FYI: The iBook went from G3 to G4 processors in October 2003, right around the time Greene County Schools first added Apple iBooks to their school system. Most likely the iBooks that Greene County Schools are upgrading are iBook G4 models running somewhere between 800MHz -1GHz, but they could also be previous gen 800/900 MHz G3-based iBooks. Greene County Schools did not immediately respond to our inquiry about which iBook model(s) they are currently using.

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Nearly 2,000 Apple iBooks ready to boot up Greene County, NC schools – October 03, 2003
North Carolina’s Greene County endorses plan to give iBooks to every student in grades 6-12 – June 10, 2003

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