The final post of the night …
Chief Tech Officer Robert Torres: “Stockton Unified is a Windows shop” based on where it’s at now technology-wise. Windows machines have edge over iPads in attached keyboard, compatibility with district software, Flash software, cost and warranty. Apple’s device don’t work with Adobe Flash software. He said Flash is “a dying technology” but the reality is “everybody has to develop around this technology and it will be awhile before we can flush that out.”
Sara Cazares asked if laptops require more IT support than iPads. She said iPads are in use in various school districts. He said SUSD is better equipped to manage the Windows laptops than iPads. Cazares said Apple’s proposal seemed “very, very reasonable.” Torres said the district can service the laptops rather than the iPads.
Some Apple people are here. Cazares asked them to comment on Torres’ comments that the iPads are “more complicated and convoluted” for SUSD to use.
Mark Rand and James Brennan are the Apple reps. Rand: “This is a student learning decision, not a technical decision. This is for the students. Let’s keep that in mind moving forward.” Brennan: Said the iPad has a built-in virtual keyboard. He said the virtual keyboard suffices for many K-5 students. But he said there is a low-cost option. He said SUSD’s logo would be embossed on the iPads.
Re: software compatibility, he said the iPad meets the common core standards. He said ST Math’s suite of iPad apps came out Saturday (SUSD just bought ST Math). He admitted the iPad may not work with district MAP assessment software. He repeated Torres’ remark that Flash is starting to be phased out. He said battery life on iPads is “phenomenal.” He said it’s 10 hours. The Windows laptops, according to SUSD, have nine hours of battery life.
He said he wants to make the individual sites self-sufficient. He said one MacBook would go to each school site to manage the iPads and make each school site self-sufficient. He said if Apple got an order for 4,500 iPads it could have them shipped in a week, unless the district asked for customization. Rand said Apple provides “world-class support.” Rand quoted Steve Jobs quoting Wayne Gretzky, who once said he skated to where the puck will be, not to where it is.
Gloria Allen asked about the cost and a third Apple-man named Steve Hunt said Apple is giving SUSD a “fiercely competitive” offer. Cazares asked Steve Lowder if he had anything to say. Lowder called Robert Torres back to the podium. Torres was asked by Lowder what his role is, and he said one of them is to make technology recommendations to the district. Lowder: “So your role is to provide us with your recommendation for what is the best device for the district?”
Torres said yes, and Torres said the district investigated several options, including non-Apple tablets. He said software compatibility is an issue. He said the lack of a mouse on tablets is an issue on test-taking. Lowder again asked Torres to reiterate that he recommends the Windows laptops, and Torres agreed. Lowder said Apple’s bid costs an extra $400,000.
Lowder asked if the Apple-men had a fair chance to convince SUSD. The Applemen said if price is the big issue, then Torres chose the right (less expensive) product. Lowder asked, “Do you normally circumvent the process and go directly to the board?” Steve Hunt said Apple had only 17 days to prepare an offer. I feel that’s what you’ve done here tonight. It’s very disturbing. I don’t think it’s fair or appropriate. It was a decision made by a person paid to make the decision. I’m very disturbed, very unpleased with this. The most wealthy company in the world today I think is Apple and I don’t think you need to circumvent a process.” Lowder added, “We had a process, a defined need. Your devices don’t measure up to the need. … I believe there is a great application for the iPad. This just isn’t it.” Hunt said he would bring Lowder’s concerns back to Apple.
Cazares said she continues to have “a lot of reservations” going with PCs.
The vote: Windows wins 5-2, Cazares and Ramirez vote no.