Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Ramon Cortines said Friday he does not believe the district has the money to complete its goal of providing every student with a laptop or tablet computer.

Cortines said he remains committed to providing students access to technology, but “there must be a balanced approach to spending bond dollars to buy technology when there are so many brick-and-mortar and other critical facility needs that must be met.”

The effort to provide all students, teachers and administrators with iPads or laptops was championed by former Superintendent John Deasy. The rollout of the $1 billion program, however, was beset by problems from the start. Questions about Deasy’s contacts with officials from Apple and education- software vendor Pearson, however, forced a re-bidding of contracts and ultimately contributed to his departure from the district.

Cortines said he still wants students to have access as needed to desktop, laptop or tablet computers, but the funding isn’t available to provide the information to everyone in the district.

“I do think we will need to identify alternative ongoing resources to fund the curriculum that is pre-loaded on some of the devices, which of course is why I believe that currently the district does not have sufficient funds to purchase and maintain technology in a 1:1 model,” he said. “We must also consider the issue of replacing the devices, along with offering professional development to help teachers infuse technology into their class lessons.

“We must think and act long term,” he said.

Cortines’ comments came as the district is locked in bitter contract talks with the teachers’ union, United Teachers Los Angeles. The union declared an impasse in talks earlier this week, meaning a mediator will likely be appointed. The union is demanding at least an 8 percent pay raise for teachers, while the district has offered 5 percent.

Cortines said offering more than 5 percent raises would lead to layoffs and service cuts across the district.

City News Service

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