$180 million computer deal for students null if Prop 3 fails
BOISE – Two weeks before the November election, in which Idaho voters could cancel the whole program, the state of Idaho on Tuesday signed a $180 million, eight-year contract with Hewlett-Packard Co. to supply laptop computers to every Idaho high school student.
Von Hansen, vice president and general manager at HP Boise, who joined dignitaries including Idaho Gov. Butch Otter and state schools Superintendent Tom Luna at the HP plant in Boise to announce the contract, said, “We’re proud to open this new chapter in our relationship with the state. … This is a great honor for HP.”
If voters turn thumbs down on Proposition 3 in two weeks, the contract will be canceled.
But Luna said, “This train has left the station when it comes to transforming our schools and the 21st-century learning opportunity. We’ll see what happens on Election Day, but it’s not going to stop the transformation that’s happening.”
Mike Lanza, chairman of the Vote No on Props 1, 2, 3 campaign, said, “I think that the outcome of the election will determine whether anything goes forward.” He noted that recent polls have shown Proposition 3 trailing among Idaho voters.
Luna pushed sweeping school reforms in three laws, all of which are now being tested by voters in referendum measures, after opponents gathered more than 74,000 signatures to place them on the ballot.
Proposition 1 removes most collective bargaining rights from teachers; Proposition 2 imposes a new merit-pay bonus system; and Proposition 3 requires big technology boosts, including laptops for every high school student and requiring two online classes to graduate, while rewriting state school funding formulas.
Luna said the HP contract works out to $249.77 per year per student or teacher for the laptops, with a quarter of them being replaced each year.
When wireless networks and professional development are added in, the average is $292.77.
“It’s close to what we originally budgeted,” Luna said.
Otter hailed the selection of HP, which long has been one of the Boise area’s largest employers.
“It’s a proud moment for me,” he said, “that we had an Idaho company that was the successful bidder and that will lead us into that 21st-century classroom.”
Hansen said the notebook computers HP proposed are a “commercial-grade PC” with a 14-inch screen, an all-aluminum front and back, and antishock technology that will protect the disc drive from damage if the computer is dropped. He identified the model as the HP Probook 4440s.
HP’s successful bid is a partnership that also includes Education Networks of America for the wireless networks; Xtreme Consulting Group for tech support; Black Box for hardware fixes; and the Idaho Digital Learning Academy for training.