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INFORMATIONAL LETTER NO: 74

POLICY CODE: DJB



TO:                  Superintendents of Schools

FROM:            Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner

Date:                December 22, 2005

SUBJECT:       Maine Learning Technology Initiative Future Plans

Overview:
The Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) program equipment lease ends at the conclusion of this fiscal year, June 30, 2006. The Department of Education is working toward entering into a new contract for new equipment for the MLTI program (grades 7 and 8) for the Fall of 2006. This new contract would include new mobile computing devices for teachers and students as well as new or upgraded wireless networks, and warranty and support contracts.

By January of 2006, the Department of Education (DOE) will release a new Request for Proposals (RFP) for the next round of MLTI equipment. The RFP process is a competitive one which is designed to yield the State of Maine the best solution, both technically and financially, that the market will bear. It is anticipated that this process will be completed by April of 2006. The Department of Education intends to cover all contract costs for the MLTI grades 7 and 8 program.

Existing MLTI iBooks will be made available to schools for purchase. Schools may purchase their entire deployment of iBooks for $48 per device. The existing wireless infrastructure will remain in place regardless of whether or not a school chooses to purchase their existing deployment or whether or not they choose to opt-in to the next MLTI equipment renewal.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What will the new MLTI contract cover? Will there be local costs associated with the program?
The DOE intends to include primary equipment, software, support, and infrastructure costs in the contract. This includes the device (i.e., laptop), operating system software and basic educational software titles (i.e., “the image”), warranty and support (i.e., normal repairs, help desk), and wireless network.

Experience from the current MLTI program has shown that local districts have often incurred additional costs. For example many districts purchased additional software, purchased additional peripheral equipment (i.e., data probes, microscopes, digital cameras, etc.), hired additional staff (i.e., Technology Integrators, support staff), expanded network coverage, increased server capacity, etc. These types of costs will continue to be a local choice and a local responsibility.

Who will be issued an MLTI device under the new contract?
The DOE intends to modify slightly the definition of device assignments for school staff. At this time, the DOE intends to provide a device to all classroom teachers who spend 50% or more of their time (based on FTE) teaching 7th and/or 8th graders. This would include core subject area teachers, special education teachers, performing and visual arts teachers, and librarians. In addition, for each school, devices will be provided to the school’s principal and the school’s technology lead.

Can my district purchase additional MLTI devices?
The DOE intends to negotiate with the winning bidder a price for individual districts to purchase additional devices that is the same or nearly the same as the MLTI contract price. This would include all services, warranty and support included in the larger MLTI deployment so that these devices would be, generally, indistinguishable from the MLTI State-funded devices. This will allow schools to purchase devices for other grade levels (e.g., 9-12) or for additional staff members (e.g., educational technicians, faculty in other grades, etc.). This purchasing contract would also allow other educational entities such as private and parochial schools, home school families, and adult education programs to purchase the MLTI solution.

Will MLTI continue to provide Teacher Professional Development?
Yes, the DOE will continue to offer regional professional development opportunities for teachers as well as regional leadership meetings for principals, teacher leaders, and technology leaders.

Will the new laptops be Apple iBooks again?
The RFP process is an open, competitive process. Any vendor may bid for the contract. Therefore, at this time, it is impossible to know who will bid or who will win the contract. When the RFP and award process is concluded, details on the new solution will be shared.

Is a new contract and new equipment guaranteed? If not, then what?
No, for a variety of reasons, the DOE cannot guarantee that a new contract will be awarded to a bidder. For example, it is possible that no acceptable bids will be submitted by vendors.

If a new contract is not awarded, then the DOE intends to extend the existing MLTI contract for one year.  A new contract would then be sought in the next fiscal cycle for the 2007-8 school year, instead. An extension would mean that existing MLTI iBooks would remain in use for another year under an agreement with Apple.

When the new contract is awarded, what happens to the old MLTI iBooks?
When a new contract is awarded, the existing MLTI iBooks will be retired as of June 30, 2006. The existing lease allows the lessee to purchase the equipment at the end of the lease. The DOE intends to exercise that option, then pass on this buy-out to schools. Each individual school may purchase their MLTI deployments for $48 per unit.

Can schools purchase some of their iBooks, and not others? Can schools purchase laptops from other schools that do not want to purchase their iBooks?
At this time, the DOE is asking schools to purchase all of their deployment. The DOE is investigating options for partial deployment purchases. Deployments not purchased by a school will be made available to other Maine schools for purchase on a first-come first-serve basis. The DOE is investigating recycling and end-of-life processes for deployments not purchased by any school. Details on this potential buy-out process will be sent to schools directly and published on the MLTI web site (http://www.maine.gov/mlti/) during the first quarter of 2006.

If a school purchases their iBook deployment, what comes with the iBook?
The iBook includes the wireless network card, the power charger, and the MLTI Image. The MLTI Image include the Macintosh Operation System version 10.2.8 as well as many software titles including Appleworks, iMovie, iPhoto, Internet browsers, etc. There are 4 titles whose licensing terms will change: both the anti-virus software and World Book encyclopedia software have annual subscriptions for updates and these subscriptions will not be renewed, so no new virus definitions will be downloaded, and content updates to the World Book encyclopedia will no longer be downloaded, but both titles will continue to function; also, both DataStudio and MacJournal software titles were donated to the project for the life of the contract, and while DOE is in discussion with both vendors to determine the status of those titles, currently, neither title will be licensed for use on the iBooks after the lease ends.

The Applecare Service and Support warranty will end on June 30, 2006. After that date, the extended warranty service will no longer be available for those iBooks. The DOE is investigating processes and protocols for schools to utilize for repairs of the iBooks after the warranty coverage ends.

For any questions, please contact Jeff Mao, Coordinator of Educational Technology at jeff.mao@maine.gov or (207) 624-6634.