Princeton school board slated to approve $2.6 million for MacBooks and iPads at a special meeting tonight

The school board for the Princeton Public Schools will hold a special video meeting tonight, July 1, at 7 p.m. to vote on a plan to spend about $2.6 million on new MacBook Air laptops and iPads for students in grades six through 12.

According to the latest quote from Apple, the district is slated to purchase 2,500 MacBook Air computers for $879 each. Apple will not be providing a discount for the bulk purchase beyond the standard education discount for individual computer purchases. The district is also slated to purchase 590 iPads totaling $212,581. Apple is offering the district a $50 dollar discount for each 10-pack of iPads. Other items like AppleCare service bring the total proposed purchase to $2,591,986.

The new electronic devices would be given to every student regardless of whether the students have their own computer or not already. The district would borrow the money for the computers and pay it back over five years, according to the documents related to the purchases.

Many school districts provide students with Chromebooks, which are much less expensive and are easier to maintain in terms of security.

The school board is slated to buy 430 Chromebooks for elementary school students at the special meeting at a cost of $212 per Chromebook, plus fees for service and licenses. The total cost for the Chromebooks is $104,920.

Also on the agenda, the school board will sell various electronic devices to retired superintendent Steve Cochrane, including a 2014 iPad, a 2014 Lenovo laptop, a 2017 MacBook Pro, and a 2019 iPhone 10. He will pay a total of $250 for all of the devices.

The password for the 7 p.m. meeting is 1Qu3Rw. Residents can also call in at 1 312 626 6799  or +1 929 205 6099  or +1 301 715 8592. The call-in webinar id is 857 0391 0278 and the password is 766559.


  1. Why does the Superintendent want all of his tech to take with him? Why would the schools sell him all his tech? The taxpayers are entitled to all the info on all his work tech, no? Maybe the town and the schools should keep it. He is not entitled to take it with him.

    1. Does this make sense to anyone? It’s nuts – we are spending money on macbook airs, $530K on 3 bathrooms and a concession stand and are way over budget on the referendum. Maybe taxpayers and parents would be better served if the schools figured out a great distancing plan and invest in equipment to guarantee that kids and teachers are safe in schools. How much cleaning is going to go on in the common bathrooms during the school day? If anyone has been in the kids bathrooms you know what I am talking about. Bathrooms at the schools are an issue during the best of times. Just my 2 cents but putting all the kids back in schools, making sure that we have great online learning alternatives if we have to makes more sense to me.

    2. Hey doesn’t want people seeing what he has on them!!! More Reasons not to sell them to him

  2. Why MacBook Air? Sounds like a waste of money. At 2,500 computers, the district would save over $1.5MM if they continued with Chormebooks instead.

  3. I was going to ask the same thing: why not Chromebooks (especially since they appear to be the standard for most schools).? And where do Ipads fit into instruction?

  4. Hey School Board: Tell you what–I bid $300 for all of Cochrane’s devices. Hell, I’ll go up to $400. That $250 price tag is not fiduciarily defensible.

  5. Can someone explain this to me?: Also on the agenda, the school board will sell various electronic devices to retired superintendent Steve Cochrane, including a 2014 iPad, a 2014 Lenovo laptop, a 2017 MacBook Pro, and a 2019 iPhone 10. He will pay a total of $250 for all of the devices.

  6. How is the sale described in the article not illegal? The devices are being sold for far below market value. Isn’t this the same as the many corrupt acts practiced in NJ where “insiders” are given special deals by their political friends. Steve Cochrane has done a great job, but he’s also been very well compensated. There’s money that’s being given away here that could have been spent on our needy students instead.

  7. Also wouldn’t this money be mostly better spent on private tutoring digitally and remotely and also on making sure class sizes are very small – one of the great insights of digital remote learning is that more can be done one-on -one and that classes must be very small for this to work. Also that there is only so much time- say 1/2 hour increments that a child should be online and then for the older ones should be matched by teaching independent study and with the younger ones requires a lot of support and childcare to make sure they are on task etc.
    How do you have smaller classes? More teachers? More remote one-on-one tutoring? Every solution is not throw millions of dollars at the football field snack bar.
    Most of the folks in Princeton already have their own personal tech for themselves and their children. That said, if a family needs the tech, great, give it to them. Take a survey though of the parents before you buy this – you are talking about going through valuable money that could be used for other things, millions of dollars people, and offer incentives to families and parents if they have their own tech .. Also for all the parents who in March had to buy tech, wouldn’t this money be better spent reimbursing the parents directly? What happened in March? If the tech was not available when it was needed? Was attendance taken? (In 30 percent of U.S. schools there is no attendance record for what happened from March to June of 2020 and this is unacceptable to the taxpayers. Why weren’t these computers on hand before hand (in private schools there is tech) especially if the district just asked for another $30 million and why has all the spending been on buildings and sports when it is clear that this is not where the long term investments in education need to be?
    The Princeton Schools should be getting all 9 out of 10s and 10 out of 10 scores like the schools in Bucks County and New Hope especially given the income levels and the fact that there are so many professors of Princeton in the town. The University needs to contribute much more and better to the schools. Also the equity issues are pulling the scores way down and there are some other things that are causing the schools to not read high ranking. These issues should be addressed and more transparently communicated about. The score for say Student Progress on Great Schools. In New Hope it is 8. In Princeton what is it? That is what are the schools doing for our children? Why are our schools say on Great Schools not 10 out of 10 or 9 out of 10?
    What about year-round school?
    Where are the insights and innovation and leadership?

  8. Giving Cochrane the opportunity to purchase the electronic devices he used makes sense. Certainly all work related information has been given to the school district. This is not an uncommon practice with corporations when executives retire. He has been using these devices for some period of time and affording him the chance to acquire them now shouldn’t raise concerns. I suppose the fair value of these devices is another question.

  9. @Not Bothered. Yes, this practice is common in private business, but PPS is not a private business. It is part of our state government and is subject to very strict ethics rules. I believe there is a law that such sales of public equipment must be at a fair market rate, which this sale clearly wasn’t at.

    I would hope that the School Board and the prosecutor’s office takes another look at this exchange, and it should be cancelled. It doesn’t reflect well on Steve Cochrane that he agreed to this gift, given the ethical issues involved. I know people aren’t looking at it this way, but this is an example of public workers benefiting themselves at the expense of the taxpayer and the students they are expected to be serving.

  10. If the school tech department was inundated with tasks to deal with security breaches from and support requests for personal devices of various types as suggested by the department staff at last night’s board meeting, will the $2.6 million outlay to purchase macbooks for every 6-12 grade student help the school district save personnel expenses in the tech department?

  11. This sucks. As a PHS student I don’t even know where to start on describing how stupid this is going to be. What a royal waste of taxpayer dollars

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