Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

News

February 13, 2014

Laptop deal in question

Officials point fingers over school lease

(Continued)

The computers, MacBook Pros, were leased from Apple for four years.

Puzzanghera worked last summer with school officials to get the district ready for an August 2013 opening, including installing a wireless infrastructure in all town buildings and digitization of all classrooms, according to McGrath.

McGrath said in an email to the Townsman that “throughout the process ... I brought to the CIO’s attention that the projected number of ‘knowledge’ workers he had listed for the schools (400) was inaccurate. I provided the correct number on multiple occasions, over the course of a year, but he did not factor in my requested changes.

“When it was time to order the laptops last spring, he discovered that additional laptops were needed that were not covered by the funding source.”

McGrath continued, “I let the School Committee know that due to the CIO’s error, the IT funding source for the computer lease would not cover the first lease payment that the CIO was preparing.”

Realizing that the district was going to come up short — and that special education teachers wouldn’t have laptops while everyone else would — McGrath said she felt the district could use some funds remaining at the of fiscal 2013 last June.

“I brought the situation forward to the School Committee chair, vice chair and budget subcommittee, who agreed that the schools could use these funds to cover the shortfall in the technology purchase,” she said.

McGrath added that it was agreed that while the first payment should come out of surplus school funds, the remaining three years of the lease for the additional 160 computers should come out of IT funds.

On June 28, 2013, McGrath put in a purchase order for the first payment of a four-year lease of 160 MacBook Pro 13-inch laptops. The first payment was for $46,455.74, for a total over four years of $177,760, which includes a $27,521 AppleCare Protection Plan. In the box under “Date Required,” it said: “ASAP.”

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