Responsive education solutions manages 38 public charter schools in Texas. George Moore is Director of Technology.
What is the technology goal for this group of schools? We want to get to a 2:1 student-to-computer ratio. We’re adding new schools every year, so reaching that goal is a challenge.
Why did you decide to purchase refurbished computers? We were challenged in finance, and we had to come up with a creative way to get to that 2:1 ratio with decent product. We looked at refurbished and found we could acquire 750 used computers for about the same cost as 500 new ones.
Did you face any objections? Was there a stigma you had to overcome? I haven’t heard of any pushback about our use of refurbished products. Students and teachers see the logo on the computer and they understand they are getting a good name-brand product for their schools. Students have the same experience they had on our previous $800 computers.
As a technology expert, did you have concerns about refurbished computers? No. Desktop computers have become a commodity. When students are doing mainly online work, and occasional document creation, and occasionally editing a movie or an audio file, computers nowadays handle that without a problem even if they’re a few years old. The fact that our computers are refurbished is invisible to the end user.
How have refurbished computers helped meet goals? We’re getting closer to our 2:1 ratio. And with standardized testing going to online testing, it is imperative that we have the number of units that we say we are going to have, because students will have to do some of their testing online.
What advice would you give about using refurbished computers? They need to do their homework in picking their vendor. Get a commitment that there will be spare computers located on site. Make sure they’ll provide you with whatever software you want on those computers for an extended period of time. Be sure they can ship all the products that you need wherever you need them. Remember that you can't just look on an order sheet and buy whatever you want. The vendor has to be willing to partner with you and actually go out and find the units that you need. They have to be able to find the type of unit that you need and then refurbish them and ship them to you.