I'm an XO owner...
"...now needs to have the power capabilities to also handle 20-30 laptops as well."
-- XOs are specifically designed to use minimal power - you can run 20 XOs at less than the energy requirements for a TV, and they can be charged up in rotation while students do other things, then used 'cord-free'.
"How about network connectivity?"
--Xos have built in wifi mesh networking, and any installation of an XO cluster includes a local server that administers the wifi logins, long term data storage, web filtering, the chat and project collaboration system, the email system.
"How about all of the volume licensing agreements?"
--The XOs run Linux, with the Sugar GUI - it is 100% open source, free, and being maintained and updated continuously. As the students learn they can also install other flavors of Linux/Unix.
"anti-virus clients, patch management systems, etc. are all done by volume. Who is going to pay for the additional licenses for these systems?"
-- All handled gratis by the Linux community - you can upgrade the XO automatically from the desktop, use the YUM repository for applications, and the OLPC and Sugar foundations are constantly adding new and imporved apps and functionality. And Linux does not need antivirus (at least not in my experience).
"Maintenance? Is the grant going to give us enough spare laptops to cover for children while they're laptops are down for repair, students who forget laptops, etc? What about the increased workload of an already-thing IT department covering the additional laptops that will, in all likelihood, break more often?"
-- The XO clusters in third world countries have 8 year old girls repairing, maintaining, and upgrading XOs. The OLPC project was _really_well_thought_out_ before they went into production. The figured from the start that the entire system from end to end needed to be such that the children could handle the majority of the administration themselves.
"And as for the Linux? I'm a FOSS advocate, run nix at home, etc. But you have to realize that *most* school/district IT departments are staffed by folks who were the most technologically proficient users at the time the equipment was installed, e.g. the librarian who knew how to install MS Office got promoted to be the head of the district IT department. Sorry, but supporting (or even running) Linux for a lot of these folks is over their heads."
"Is all of this worth it to give young students laptops? Will this really foster that much additional learning?"
-- In schools as bad as these sound like, if even 10% of the kids that get XOs use them to their full potential it will be worth it.
"Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that someone is trying to promote the technology. Unfortunately there are a lot more pressing matters to take care of in SC schools and a lot of issues to tackle before this could be successfully implemented."
-- The XOs will last the kids for years, and once integrated into the 'school life' they will replace a lot of paper, pens, textbooks, etc.