Public Input Called for on Expansion of State’s Laptop Program

AUGUSTA — The proposed expansion of the state’s laptop computer program into the high school grades deserves to be scrutinized by the public, some lawmakers contend.

The expansion would provide an Apple MacBook computer to every high school student and teacher in Maine’s public schools. Baldacci and Education Commissioner Susan Gendron propose rerouting technology money for the schools to the laptop program, thereby accomplishing the expansion without any new spending in the state budget. Schools face the choice of whether they want to retain their old technology program or join the laptop initiative.

There is no bill associated with the expansion and because it won’t trigger new spending, the only approval needed is for the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee to authorize Gendron to negotiate a new lease agreement with Apple. There’s no public hearing built into that process and the Education Committee’s role is only to make a recommendation.

“If anyone else is getting as many comments as I am, there are a lot of questions to be answered,” said Sen. Carol Weston (R-Waldo County), a member of the Education Committee.

Education Committee Senate Chairman Justin Alfond (D-Cumberland County) said his committee will explore its options with Baldacci and legislative leadership.

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Nicole Ouellette

Nicole Ouellette

When Nicole isn't giving advice she's completely unqualified to give, she runs an Internet marketing company in Bar Harbor, where she lives with her husband Derrick and their short dog Gidget. She loves young adult novels, cooking and talking French to anyone who'll talk back. [email protected]