The State of Maine Division of Purchases and the Maine Department of Education have contracted Apple for a major new education technology initiative involving 36,000 Macs.

Maine plans to give new laptops to teachers, librarians, principals and technology coordinators in the summer of 2006 for the 2006-7 school year. New laptops for all grade 7 and 8 public middle-school students will be issued at the start of the school year. The Department estimates that over 36,000 laptops will be deployed.

Apple was selected as the top-scoring bidder for services and equipment for the Maine Learning Technology Initiative. The decision is subject to approval from the State Purchases Review Committee.

"We are pleased with the strong educational focus of Apple's proposal, and we look forward to a continued partnership in providing the students of Maine with the tools and resources for the 21st century," said Bette Manchester, director of special projects for the Department of Education.

Negotiations to nail down the nuts and bolts of the deal have now begun.