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Hewlett-Packard wins Idaho school laptop contract

Associated Press Published: October 23, 2012

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — State officials on Tuesday awarded an eight-year, $180 million contract to Hewlett-Packard Co. to provide Idaho high school students and teachers with laptop computers as part of the Students Come First education overhaul.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and Public Schools Superintendent Tom Luna announced Palo Alto, Calif.-based Hewlett-Packard as the winning vendor at an event on the company's campus in Boise. The company submitted the lowest bid — providing HP ProBook laptops, software, security and support for $249 per student — in a process involving four other companies.

The contract and the plan for equipping students and teachers with laptops could be undone if voters in two weeks decide to reject Proposition 3. The technology initiative, along with referendums on teacher merit pay and limits on teacher union bargaining, each face voter approval Nov. 6.

Otter and Luna said Tuesday the computers are critical to their vision for transforming high school classrooms across the state, improving student access to educational opportunities, preparing students for the future and fulfilling a new online course mandate.

Under the contract, about 6,600 computers with 14-inch screens and batteries designed to last the entire school day are due to be handed out to all high school instructors and administrators early next year. The state will then distribute the machines to one-third of the state's high school students next fall. Another one-third will get computers in 2014, and the final third in 2015.

Otter lauded the choice of Hewlett-Packard — which has had offices in Boise for 38 years — and taking another step forward in the education overhaul approved by the 2011 Legislature.

"If we use yesterday's education system for today's children, we deny them the promise of tomorrow," the Republican governor said.

The big contract between the State Department of Education and HP also covers work to outfit schools with wireless networks, distributing the mobile devices to students and teachers, monitoring and maintaining the system and devices, and training teachers and staff on the devices and the software available for learning.

State officials who managed the bidding said the total cost per student breaks down to about $300, including the price of professional training and expanding the wireless network.

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