CHARLESTON, W.Va. — In Charleston’s Kanawha City, inside a warehouse packed with computers and their components, the work of a couple of state employees is saving the state Department of Education about $1 million a year in technology costs.
The work is part of the SecondLaunch West Virginia Initiative, an idea from David Cartwright, DOE assistant director of infrastructure and network operations, to refurbish unneeded state computer equipment otherwise slated for sale as surplus property for use in Mountain State schools.
The goal is to reroute, rebuild, reload and reinvest the equipment for the benefit of students.
At the county school level, “They have money (for technology). They have funding, but they have weak spots. You can’t get all the money you need, so we’re trying to fill in those gaps,” Cartwright explained.
“We’re not trying to fill in where they have new stuff. We want to fill out where they don’t have enough stuff.”
Hard drives are wiped, needed programs are installed, upgrades are made and the equipment is prepped for connections to school networks.
During a Tuesday visit to the warehouse, MetroNews saw computer equipment destined for schools, including pre-kindergarten programs, in Jefferson County, Morgan County, Hancock County and Pocahontas County among others.
Equipment donations come from the West Virginia Office of Technology and private companies like Toyota which is a SecondLaunch partner.
Because of the donations, travels costs to Charleston to pickup the refurbished SecondLaunch equipment are the only costs to counties.
Three years after its start, Cartwright said SecondLaunch equipment is now in schools in 47 counties with 10,451 individual items distributed as of last week for an estimated cost savings of $3.5 million.
The effort has expanded to include special education equipment.
Every item is logged on an inventory which also provides tracking information about its destination to meet needs.
Additionally this week, an initial 100 computers are being shipped to a technical education program for student education. Once rebuilt by students, those computers will be used in local schools with technical support from the same students.
Potential donations of equipment can be coordinated through Cartwright via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It never really ends because next year the equipment I’m going to get is newer than the equipment I have now,” Cartwright said.
“Two years from now, all that equipment we’ve installed, they’re going to want new because it’ll be five years old, so we can just continue this process forever.”