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LAUSD Faces Criticism For Plan To Buy iPads For 600,000 Students

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Officials with the Los Angeles Unified School District Wednesday said a proposal to use bond money to purchase iPad tablet computers for every one of its 600,000 students was critical to students’ academic future.

The proposal is part of a digital learning strategy being implemented by the district as it works to determine how to spend more than $17 million in bond money.

LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia was among the board members present at a meeting Tuesday night that erupted into a shouting match over whether that money should instead be spent on reimbursing employees for salary cuts and furlough days levied by the district in recent years.

Garcia told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO that officials remain focused on preparing students for the 21st-century workplace.

“L.A. Unified has to move towards closing the digital divide, putting an instrument in every student’s hands, because that is what the world is dictating,” Garcia said.

The district’s Bond Oversight Committee voted in November against a plan from Superintendent John Deasy that would provide electronic devices for LAUSD students at 14 secondary schools.

But the prospect of funding technological upgrades for students without paying teachers and staff for previous furlough days has drawn criticism of the proposal – a perspective that Garcia said she completely understands.

“Teachers and every employee have made great sacrifices, and when LAUSD gets more money from the state, should they be compensated? Absolutely,” she said.

The Board of Education moved in November to rescind 10 furlough days and restore its full 180-day academic year after the passage of Proposition 30.

Board members ordered Deputy Superintendent Jaime Aquino to devise a strategy on how to fund the expansion of digital education and report back in January.

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