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Monday, March 15, 2004, 11:00 am PT (02:00 pm ET)

Apple in negotiations to expand Maine laptop program

A little over a year and a half ago the state of Maine equipped all seventh- and eighth-grade students with iBooks, via a multi-million dollar contract with Apple Computer. While the plan initially came under fire amid budget cuts, studies recently garnering high praise from the state's students and teachers.

The current program, which cost the state $37.2 million, is set expire in 2005. But education Commissioner Susan Gendron is seeking to sell state lawmakers on her proposal for tapping into a renovation fund to jump-start an expansion of the state's laptop computer program into Maine's 160 high schools and vocational schools," according to new information obtained by media outlet, Maine Today.

The state's education Department already has begun negotiations with Apple on the proposed plan to purchase another 22,000 laptops for all ninth graders, teachers and administrators by next fall.

Gendron is reportedly seeking a similar four-year contract for high schools that would work out to $300 per student per year. That figure would include insurance, wireless networks, support and professional development.