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Bill seeks to ban use of school bond money for iPads

Bill seeks to ban use of school bond money for iPads
Students at Broadacres Elementary school in Carson explore the possibilities with their new LAUSD provided iPads in August. The district wants to tap about $1 billion in bond money to provide every student, teacher and administrator with a digital tablet. (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)

A new bill introduced Friday would prohibit California school districts from using voter-approved construction bonds for non-facility related items  -- a move spurred by the Los Angeles Unified School District's $1-billion plan to purchase iPads for every student, teacher and administrator.

L.A. Unified's iPad project, launched last year, is funded with one-time, school construction bonds paid back over about 25 years.  The plan, which includes network upgrades at schools, is expected to consume all the technology funds available though the bonds.

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Assemblyman Curt Hagman (R-Chino Hills),  who authored the bill and has been vocal in his opposition to the iPad program, said the public is led to believe that bond money will be used to build new schools or refurbish aging ones and not for other, unrelated purposes.

"It is important that construction bond money be used for school facilities, and not for things like iPads," Hagman said.

Los Angeles Unified Supt. John Deasy has been steadfast in asserting that the technology upgrade is an essential academic initiative.

Deasy could not be reached for comment.

The bill would prohibit districts from purchasing "instructional materials" – including "textbooks, technology-based materials and other non-facility related items with a short usable life."

Those items should be purchased with money allocated from the state for those purposes. "That's what they should be buying this stuff with – not long-term debt money," he said.

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