Michigan school district adds 1,200 more Apple Macs; never approved by school board

“One after another, the gleaming white covers of the 64 iBook laptop computers arrayed on the horseshoe of tables are flipped open, waiting to be configured for use by technology specialists,” David Jesse reports for The Ann Arbor News (Michigan).

“A few feet away, a growing pile of Styrofoam packing material climbs toward the ceiling as sparkling eMacs are pulled out of boxes, one after the other,” Jesse reports. “The eMacs are destined for classrooms and computer labs around Ann Arbor’s Pioneer High School, while the laptops are headed for big carts that store more than 30 of the iBooks and can be used in any classroom.”

“The more than 700 computers unpacked last fall at Pioneer High School are among the 900 iBooks, 1,140 eMacs and 60 specialized workstations purchased last summer,” Jesse reports. “Not everything has gone smoothly, though. The district recently learned it should not have used more than $1 million of bond money to buy software, so the district had to transfer money out of its capital needs fund to cover those purchases. Also, budget problems forced the district to reduce the amount of space covered by wireless networks in various schools. District officials said those are minor concerns. The technology bond is fulfilling its mission of updating the technology across the district, said Peter Ways, the district’s acting administrator for technology.”

“‘The kids are living in a multi-media world. We need to provide them with all the tools. Adults in education today are digital immigrants. Kids are digital natives,’ Ways said,” Jesse reports. “

Full article here.

Meanwhile, in a separate article also published today, Jesse reports, “The decision to purchase Apple Computers with Ann Arbor Public School’s technology bond was never approved by the school board. Instead, administrators sent a letter to Apple, telling the company it had been selected over Dell and Hewlett-Packard five days before a school board committee got its first briefing on the bids from the three companies. The letter was sent in 2004, prior to the public vote on the issue and said the award was contingent on the bond being passed.”

Jesse reports, “That award has turned out to be worth more than $11 million to Apple, which in turn has provided a company employee to work in the district, along with trips to California and Chicago for Ann Arbor administrators.”

“The school board has approved each individual purchase from Apple – including the last $3 million purchase last summer – under the overarching proposal from Apple,” Jesse reports.

Jesse reports, “Superintendent Todd Roberts, who replaced George Fornero in July, believes the district followed correct procedure in awarding Apple the work. ‘I don’t see any issues based on the information I’ve had people dig up,’ he said. ‘I wanted to see in writing that there was an RFP (Request For Proposal) put out and there was. And I wanted to see something written in communication to the board and there was. It certainly appears to me that the board was on board with going with Apple.'”

Jesse reports, “”In the actual RFP that was eventually issued, the district said it was looking ‘to provide Intel manufacturers and Apple Computer Inc. an opportunity to provide the AAPS with information to upgrade all computers with a more current and up-to-date model computer and current operating system. The Ann Arbor Public Schools has been a multi-platform school district with the majority of instructional computers being various models of Apple Macintosh computers. The business classes at the High Schools and some administrative offices have used Intel-based PCs. The district desires to evaluate the costs of current and alternative platform choices to insure taxpayer funds are being well spent, particularly in light of the planned investments.'”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Paul J” for the heads up.]


  1. Big mistake. Where I work everyone uses a PC with Windows, otherwise known as real world computing. The goal of this school district’s technology initiative should be to turn each and every student into a functioning Microsoft Excel spreadsheet user, or, if they want to have a little fun, a Microsoft Powerpoint user with Microsoft’s fantastic clip-art for extra credit. Core competencies should include writing a memo to Mr. Dithers in Microsoft Word. That’s where it’s at.

    How does this school board sleep at night knowing these kids won’t have fundamental Windows skills to succeed in the workplace? What’s the point of using a Macintosh?

    Your potential. Our passion.

  2. The best way to train students for the real world has always to give them Macs. In about 5 years Windows computers will work like Macs do now (only uglier). I’ve been saying this for almost 20 years and it has always come true.

  3. Note that the superintendent says the procedure was correct, and that the school board isn’t complaining that they weren’t involved in the process.

    Really, it’s ONLY the reporter who is trying to dig up a scandal when there’s nothing there. I’ve seen the Ann Arbor News do this before, and I find it to be thoroughly irresponsible journalism. They’re trying to spin it as a scandal when there’s no evidence at all pointing to it.

    Instead, they could easily have written an article about how the new technologies will be used by the school district, based it on actual information, and provided valuable info to their readers.

  4. Hey “Zune Tang”…

    One very good reason that Apple Macintosh computers are popular with schools is that they run Microsoft Office VERY WELL. Macs actually have a better and more complete build of MS Office than Windows does (Google it if you don’t believe me).

    Another reason is that the quality of both the hardware and the operating system is much better than generic PCs running Windows so schools can trust them to last. Also, the virus threat is not even there.

    When it comes to “real world” computing, Macintosh is the best place to begin. A PC running Windows in a classroom will just stifle the students.

  5. Geez…awhile back I mentioned that Zune Tang was tiresome but got flack from other posters. Now all I see is people repeating my comments. What gives…Zune’s ‘satire’ is not funny anymore?

    His passion
    Our pain (in the ass)
    MW. old… as in its getting old.

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