The science of savings: Wisconsin charter school maximizes its investment in technology
Keith Rogers, chief operating Officer of Milwaukee Academy of Science, was looking for a home computer when he recalled a series of email messages he'd received at work from a CDI sales representative about recertified machines. He visited CDI's site and, while he ultimately decided to buy his personal computer somewhere else, he found himself pleasantly surprised by CDI's prices.
In fact, the deals were a lot better than the academy was getting from the computer reseller it was using at the time.
"CDI came in superior," Rogers said. "We now use them for better than 85 percent of our purchases."
The 1,058-student academy, the largest independent charter school in Wisconsin, was founded in 2000 and is overseen by a consortium of seven higher education institutions in the area. The school seeks to prepare inner city children in grades K-12 for careers in science, but administrators quickly learned they needed to shore up reading and writing skills in the early grades to make the curriculum work.
Computers are designed to be a critical tool in that process. With a lean budget, however, the academy needed to make smart purchases. Students in the higher grades might need the latest technology for advanced courses, but most educational software runs just fine on machines that are a few years old. That made recertified computers an attractive option. "One of the problems of technology is how easy it is to get oversold," Rogers said.
"While the latest and greatest technology is necessary for my pre-engineering group, it's probably not necessary for my reading and writing group."
Rogers estimates he's bought close to 300 computers from CDI so far, mostly in 30-unit laptop carts. He's thrilled that he can purchase a four-year warranty—comparable to new equipment—for an economical amount per machine, but so far he hasn't had to return any machines.
Rogers raved about the personal attention he receives from his CDI sales representative, who also serves as point person for any troubleshooting. "If something is better than outstanding, then that's what he is," he said. CDI largely purchases brand name computers that were previously used by corporate customers.
The machines generally have a lot of horsepower, and have been gently used. Before they're sent out to customers, however, CDI puts them through a rigorous recertification process that involves cleaning, diagnostics, disk wiping and other checks that assure top performance.
"One of the advantages of CDI is they have our school imaging system on file," Rogers said. "Schools essentially send a hard drive preloaded with its custom software to CDI, which then replicates that system on all future orders and handles all licensing issues. That frees up school tech staffs to handle more pressing problems."
Rogers added that when CDI computers arrive at the school, they're ready to use. "That's an advantage that's pretty incredible."
Once the academy gets a better sense of its budget for the upcoming school year, Rogers plans to add more computers from CDI. "I couldn't be more pleased," he said.
For more information, visit www.cdicomputers.com.