Refurbished Computers – Not So Fast

A few years ago, we finally got to the point where most school districts had established policies to replace outdated computers. Then along came the recession, and with it, the refresh cycle that CTOs had fought so hard to create. Now, as the technology in our school continues to age, leaders are looking for innovative ways to replace older equipment while implementing new projects like Common Core preparation.

A recent article, “Saving Money with Refurbished Technology,” printed in District Administration and referenced in the CoSN eNews, shows how districts have reduced hardware purchasing costs considerably by purchasing refurbished used computers and tablets. This is a great way to get cheap new equipment and avoid the problems of e-waste. There are several reputable organizations out there that will do a nice job of refurbishing and provide a clean system, complete with warranty.

However, there are a few concerns that districts need to address when making decisions about purchasing refurbished equipment. Old software must be able to sync with current operating systems if districts are to truly stay ahead of the curve; as SETDA’s Geoff Fletcher noted, there is a fear that “first generation iPads may not be able to run certain newer curriculum programs.” Additionally, refurbished equipment may need to be replaced much sooner, and that replacement comes with hardware, software, and labor expenses. The replacement cycle may have just shrunk from five years to two or three years.

Other options to dealing with technology budget issues are also worth exploring. These include leasing devices and leveraging the power of purchasing consortia to obtain cheaper pricing. These options and other approaches to managing an effective and efficient IT operation are explored in CoSN’s SmartIT Leadership Initiative and new SmartIT Leadership Guide.

Purchasing refurbished computers, tablets, and other equipment isn’t a bad approach to closing a budget gap, but it's also not the only one. Be sure you explore all your options!