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Augusta, ME -- Commissioner of Education J. Duke Albanese announced that every middle school across Maine has requested to participate in the state’s first-in-the-nation Maine Learning Technology Initiative to provide universal, one-to-one access to portable, wireless learning technology for all seventh and eighth grade students and teachers. All schools also elected to utilize the solution provided by Apple under a master contract with the State, rather than receive partial cash grants to implement a locally-designed, alternative one-to-one wireless solution.
Maine’s 239 middle schools serve 33,000 seventh and eighth grade students, with 3,000 teachers included in the Initiative. In earlier estimates, the possible maximum number of schools was given as 241, but two schools will not enroll any seventh or eighth graders in 2002-03.
Nine demonstration/exploration schools will be deployed for technical validation and teacher training by mid-March 2002. The remaining middle schools in Maine will be deployed for all seventh grade classrooms by the start of the 2002-03 school year, with eighth grade classrooms to follow for 2003-04.
The plan adopted by the Maine Legislature in 2001 to govern the Maine Learning Technology Initiative was designed to avoid making the program a state mandate; thus, each school district was given the option to participate. Schools could also opt-in to the program, but request a grant for “alternative equivalent value” to implement a one-to-one laptop program that was locally designed but which met the general objectives of the state plan.
Albanese said, “Universal participation by Maine’s middle schools sends a powerful statement that this is truly an education initiative that is important to our teachers and students. Importantly, it also increases the prospect that Maine’s program will level the playing field and make technology a tool for equity across the entire state.”
Joanne Steneck, MLTI Project Director, commented, “Now that we know everyone is in, we can move forward with much more detailed planning and work on the installation of infrastructure and on teacher training in order to make this program a reality.”