As Schools Give Students Computers, Price of L.A.’s Program Stands Out

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The Perris Union High School District is paying $344 apiece for a Chromebook for every student. Nearby, Riverside Unified purchased a variety of devices, including the Kindle Fire and iPad Mini, for as low as $150 each. In San Diego Unified, some students are using a $200 tablet.

Perris middle school students Jacob Quinino, 13, left, Brian Guereque, 12, and Joshua Ortega, 12, use their Chromebook devices during lunch break.

Perris middle school students Jacob Quinino, 13, left, Brian Guereque, 12, and Joshua Ortega, 12, use their Chromebooks during lunch break. (Credit: Bob Chamberlin/Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles Unified School District, however, is paying $768 per device for its students, teachers and administrators, making it one of the nation’s most expensive technology programs. The reason: L.A. Unified selected a relatively costly product — a higher-end Apple iPad — and also paid for a new math and English curriculum installed on the tablets.

School districts across the country are embarking on technology upgrades, with the latest trend toward providing each student with a computer, such as a tablet or similar device. These school systems are attempting to replace traditional textbooks as much as possible and ensure that all students have access to technology. The devices also are intended to encourage students to be more engaged in learning.

Other districts are finding ways to buy or lease computers that are less costly but still aligned to educational goals. Some school systems, for example, are giving younger students a different device from those used in high school. Although many are using iPads, they often are buying less costly models without the additional cost of curriculum software.

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