District Makes Pact with Dell for Elementary Computers; Some Teachers and Principals Would Have Preferred Apples, but the PCs Were Cheaper

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Byline: lisa miller, st. johns sun

Macintosh or PC? Like many computer users, the St. Johns County School District now has its preference.

After lengthy discussion and research, the district struck a deal with Dell Computers to have the company equip its three new elementary schools with PCs because district staff said the company provides an excellent learning tool for students at a fantastic price.

"We're just excited to have the technology," said Paul Goricki, principal for Hickory Creek Elementary School. "I think that for most of the teachers, they expressed preference for Apples over the Dells, and they did that because of familiarity."

Hickory Creek, Timberlin Creek and South Woods elementaries, which open in August, will all receive the new computers.

Hickory Creek is located behind Switzerland Point Middle School, Timberlin Creek on County Road 210 and South Woods is located near Hastings on Cowpen Branch Road.

For about $685,000, the district gets 639 Dell computers, 69 printers, accessories, software and services to divide between the three schools. Apple's price for the same deal was about $755,500. Hewlett Packard's offer was around $720,000. Each new school has a technology budget of $315,000, which will pay for the computers.

Superintendent of Schools Joseph Joyner said the money the district saved by buying Dell computers will help replace old computers at other schools.

"As a district, we focus not just on equipping the new schools but in replicating the standard created in the new schools into the older ones," Joyner said in a written statement on the district's Web site.

Joyner's priorities in selecting a system included how well students could learn on the system, how well teachers could use them and the possibility of the district being able to provide the same type of computers to a greater number of students.

Part of Dell's deal was to also allow the district to purchase computers at a discount for up to the next year, Joyner said.

During the computer bidding process, many expressed concerns because most teachers and administrators are already using Apples. …