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Can Refurbished Computers Do the Job?

Sitting on 40 acres of rolling hills in Hillsboro, Mo., about 50 miles southwest of St. Louis, is the Grandview R-II School District, which has 850 K12 students and about 120 staff members. Nearly 100 percent of the computers operate in the cloud.

Kathy Bellew, the district's technology coordinator, likes to say she is the IT department, as she is the lone tech person operating and maintaining servers and equipment. While administrative staff members are still using Microsoft Office, academic and student work is all in the cloud, a shift that began in 2005 with the student information system.

An Internet connection and a decent processor is all that's needed, Bellew says. "I don't have to do installations on machines; I don't have to maintain servers; I don't have expensive equipment [to install and maintain]," she explains. This saves her time, money, personnel and aggravation. Even the yearbook content and creation is done in the cloud.

As for computer power, the Grandview district has about 100 six-year-old Dell desktop computers for teachers and students. Bellew had to update the RAM in them; otherwise, they've required very little.

About two years ago, Bellew bought from CDI Computers an additional 60 refurbished Dell laptops for the high school (as seen in the picture above). For each laptop, she needed a wireless connection and a fairly decent processor. "I started looking at them when the budget got tighter, and I saw they had warranties on them," she says. She also discovered that they were half the cost of new computers. "I don't think we could live without them now," she says.

Bellew concludes, "I just don't feel the need to get the latest, greatest processor … because of the cloud."