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LA public schools to deploy 31K Apple iPads this year, supply all 640K students in 2014

More details have emerged on the L.A. Unified School District's massive plans to supply students with iPads, as all 640,000 students in the district will receive their own Apple tablet by the end of next year.

The district's rollout plans for more than a half-million iPads were revealed this week by CITEworld. The program will kick off this year with 31,000 students at 49 schools receiving their iPads this year.

But the district plans to aggressively distribute iPads to all of its 640,000 students by late 2014, reaching students in a total of 1,124 schools for grades kindergarten through 12.

When the initial deal was announced in June, it was said that the district would pay $678 per iPad, including the cost of preloaded educational software. Assuming that average price would remain, the total cost of hardware and software to the district would be nearly $434 million.

The L.A. Unified School District is the second largest in the U.S. The district's board voted unanimously to award Apple with a $30 million contract for iPads.

But that $30 million deal was just the first phase of a larger roll-out for the Los Angeles school district. The news that all 640,000 students will receive an iPad by the end of 2014 suggests the deal is for much more than $30 million. An exact cost for the larger rollout was not given.

Digital textbooks for the L.A. program will be provided by publisher Pearson. District officials believe the program will help them save money over time by negating the need to buy traditional paper-based textbooks.

The district considered offers from Apple's rivals for the program, including Samsung and Microsoft, but ultimately went with the iPad. Microsoft pushed for the district to pilot more than one device and include its Windows hardware in the mix, but district staff felt the iPad was a superior product, and that it wouldn't be fair to require some students to use a lesser device.

Research has shown demonstrated that Apple's iPad is definitively replacing sales of traditional PCs in education. One pilot program in Idaho dubbed "iSchool Campus" has earned rave reviews, while an initiative at Arkansas State University will require all incoming students to have an iPad as of this fall.