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Friday, October 30, 2009, 08:20 am PT (11:20 am ET)

Apple expands school initiative with Atlanta MacBook program

More than 1,200 students in Atlanta will be equipped with new MacBooks in what is said to be one of the largest Apple school technology rollouts in the U.S.

In August, Greater Atlanta Christian Schools will give each of its students in grades 6 through 12 a new MacBook loaded with proprietary software, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The computers will be paid for through the private schools' tuition, and will be accompanied by iPod touches that the students' families will be expected to individually finance.

The multimillion dollar upgrade will cost older students' families a 13.8 percent annual tuition increase, to $14,400 per year. Elementary school students will have a 7.8 percent increase, to $13,100 annually.

Laptops will be provided to all students, including those that already have computers at home. Each new MacBook will have insurance and tech support.

John Couch, Apple's vice president of education, is scheduled to visit the Greater Atlanta Christian Schools next week to talk about technology in the classroom, and to thank the schools for their purchase.

This year, Apple expanded its MacBook program in Maine, a project that is said to be the largest of its kind. As part of the deal, the state's Department of Education ordered more than 64,000 MacBooks for students and faculty in grades 7 through 12. The Maine Learning Technology Initiative has provided Apple laptops to all middle school students for years, making it the first and only state with a program that provides notebooks for every student.

Apple noted during its Q4 2009 quarterly conference call that the program has been very successful. It was said that 50,000 MacBooks were sent to the state during the September quarter as part of the ongoing initiative.

This month, Apple released a redesigned unibody 13-inch MacBook with an LED backlit display, built-in battery and glass multitouch trackpad. The polycarbonate plastic hardware is the cheapest Apple laptop at $999.

This summer, Apple noted that education sales have slowed due to budget constraints during the ongoing recession. The biggest hit has been in grades kindergarten through 12. Apple has lobbied the government on stimulus funding for local grade schools, something the Cupertino, Calif., company hopes will increase Mac purchases from public schools.

In September, Apple unveiled a new education licensing program for its software. Through the new plan, institutions can purchase annual coverage to keep their Mac software up to date. Each year, a license renewal provides 12 months of guaranteed upgrades to the latest releases of Apple software.