Technology refresh on a budget
Bob Henderson
November 6, 2018

One of the biggest barriers for a school or district considering a one-to-one implementation is cost. Technology is expensive and the idea of purchasing new devices for every student -- and planning for replacements, repairs, and technology refreshes down the road -- can be daunting. If a district wants to go one-to-one, it must come up with a solution that is both affordable and that will get buy-in from the administration and school board. But what is the best way to go about this?

I served as technology coordinator for the Lake Park Audubon school district in Minnesota for nearly 10 years and was in charge of the department during exactly this type of scenario. Our district initially thought going one-to-one would be outside of our budget. Instead, we created a plan that involved leasing equipment and using recertified equipment instead of new to go one-to-one while staying within our budget. If your IT department is facing a similar dilemma, here are some tips.

Leasing programs. Leasing equipment rather than purchasing it outright makes a one-to-one project much more affordable. Lake Park Audubon partnered with CDI Computer Dealers for our one-to-one implementation. The company’s leasing program allows schools or districts to obtain equipment immediately, but stretch the payments out over 3-4 years. Going with a leasing program let us purchase laptops for every high school student in 2012 and for every elementary school student in 2014 while staying within our annual budget.

Recertified equipment. New devices are great, but recertified equipment -- when it is purchased from a reputable dealer -- performs just as well and is much more affordable.

One barrier, however, can be getting buy-in from the school board, especially if the district does not have experience with recertified equipment. When we posed this option at Lake Park Audubon, our school board initially had concerns about post-sales warranties, support and service for recertified devices.

To alleviate these concerns we set up a “pilot lab” for the Board to compare the performance of recertified equipment versus new equipment. In all benchmark tests conducted, the recertified devices outperformed new ones. The board members were also able ask questions about the post-sales support, service plans and warranties associated with the equipment which alleviated concerns about purchasing recertified devices.

Good tech partners. Having solid partners for your one-to-one implementation is crucial. We partnered with CDI because they offered everything we needed, from equipment to warranties to support -- and because of the assistance they provided with the “pilot lab” tests and in answering school board questions. They are also helping us with our technology refreshes and upgrades. When you partner with a company for your tech initiative, make sure they will be reliable and responsive to any questions or concerns. Select a partner that will be able to stay with you for the long haul.

Bob Henderson is the former technology coordinator of the Lake Park Audubon School District in Minnesota. He currently serves as the district’s technology consultant.

Tech Tips is a weekly column in SmartBrief on EdTech. Have a tech tip to share? Contact us at knamahoe@smartbrief.com

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