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August 17, 2006
Commissioner Winn Announces More Than $80 Million Lawsuit Settlement to Benefit Florida Schools
Eligible schools to receive vouchers for new technology
TALLAHASSEE Commissioner John L. Winn today announced that eligible Florida public schools will receive more than $80 million in technology funding from Microsoft as a result of a 2003 class action lawsuit settlement. Funds will be distributed in the form of vouchers school districts may use to receive reimbursement for purchases of any manufacturer's desktop, laptop or tablet computers running any operating system, or software used with those computer products. Commissioner Winn made the announcement at Griffin Middle School in Tallahassee.
"These funds give Florida a unique opportunity to bolster and expand technology use for students," said Commissioner Winn. "By utilizing technology to educate students, we better prepare them to compete in the global marketplace."
Schools will be able to use these vouchers to receive reimbursement for the purchase of a wide range of computer equipment, software and training from any manufacturer. To qualify, a school must have at least half of its students during the 2004-2005 school year eligible for free and reduced price lunch.
"These resources will go a long way to opening doors for our students," said Griffin Middle School seventh grade math teacher Jamey Hill. "Providing access to technology will help us ensure our students succeed."
The Department of Education (DOE) estimates that 1,790 schools, serving more than 1.1 million students in Florida, will be eligible. During the coming months, the DOE will provide guidance and technical assistance, including the development of a website for school districts to determine eligibility and identify items appropriate for voucher use. In addition to new technology items, vouchers may also be used for related professional development services such as curriculum development, training and supplemental services for school administrators. Half of the funds may be used for software and the other half for hardware and other services.
"It is a bright day for Florida’s neediest public schools and a wonderful boost to our entire education system, as intended by the settlement," said Alan M. Grunspan, with the law firm of Carlton Fields, in Miami, one of lawyers involved in achieving the settlement.
Signed in April 2003, the settlement resolved class action lawsuits that alleged Microsoft violated Florida's antitrust laws. The settlement provided benefits to consumers and businesses that purchased licenses for Microsoft operating system, productivity suite, spreadsheet or word processing software between Nov. 16, 1995, and Dec. 31, 2002, for use in the state of Florida. A maximum amount of $202 million was available to Florida consumers and businesses.
Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft committed one-half of any unclaimed settlement funds to Florida's public schools in the form of vouchers.