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Refurbished tech helps districts meet budgets in times of cutbacks

School districts are being forced to do more with less, even as demands for technology steadily rise.

To cope, many school officials have turned to refurbished equipment as a way to get computers in the hands of students without significant compromises on performance.

Secondhand systems are typically powerful, gently used computers from major manufacturers. Businesses may need the most horsepower they can get to run demanding applications, but that’s not necessarily the case for schools.

“Educational software is often already designed, in some respects, a step or two back from other sectors because the base of equipment tends to be older and tends to be quite varied,” says Doug Levin, executive director of the state Educational Technology Directors Association, a national organization that represents state officials who oversee technology in the schools.

A recent survey by the U.S. Education Department’s National Center for Education statistics found that 47 percent of all public school districts believe funding for educational technology is inadequate. Most plan to use their existing equipment until it no longer works.

With limited dollars available for replacement equipment, secondhand systems can make sense. CDI, north america’s largest distributor of refurbished computers, estimates its products are one-half to one-third the cost of new machines.