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money than they need, and at the end of the day, they
are going to keep it."
When Connolly's district inevitably goes 1-to-1, he be-
lieves things will change. While he says that "you need
insurance if kids are taking devices home," Connolly is
exploring a "hybrid" option that may serve as a com-
promise between self-insurance and "real" insurance.
The hybrid approach involves an outside company
managing claims and making sure equipment gets
replaced within a certain time. "If all the money from
premiums is not spent at the end of the year, it gets
rolled into the next year, so it stays with the district,"
explains Connolly. "The outside company's concept
is to work with multiple districts, and if they can get
enough districts on board, then the cost for them ends
up being small across the board. They take a small set
fee to manage it. From a district standpoint, it's not a
big nancial hit. The idea of paying a traditional insur-
ance company that keeps the inevitable surplus does
not sit well with me."
Like Connolly, of cials at Poudre School District (PSD)
in Fort Collins, CO, decided not to purchase insurance.
Students at all six high schools in the district have 1-to-
1 laptops that cost about $700 each, and parents pay
a one-time $50 fee that helps cover repair and replace-
ments for all four years that a student uses a computer.
For districts pondering a similar fee aimed at parents,
Donald Begin, director of information technology for
PSD, cautions that of cials should be extremely clear
about what the fee covers. At PSD, the $50 does not go
toward an insurance premium, but instead toward a self-
insurance fund that covers repairs and replacements.
According to Begin, PSD's school board has man-
dated self-insurance for all devices with a value of less
than $5,000. Even $2,500 interactive whiteboards have
no insurance. Only "major servers" in the data center
are insured beyond the plans that cover building con-
tents in cases of re, earthquake, or other damage.
ARE WARRANTIES WARRANTED?
Some districts may be opting out of insurance, but what about paid warranties? In a recent T.H.E. Journal article,
"The Incredible Shrinking Budget," Ann Dunkin, director of technology at Palo Alto USD (CA), says, "The prior CTO
had been purchasing the gold-plated warranty for four to ve years. The math said that just didn't make sense. We
moved to a three-year warranty (one plus two extended) and the next level of warranty down (parts and labor) and
saved several hundred dollars per computer."
Steve Young, chief technology of cer at Judson ISD (TX) has a different approach to using warranties to save
money. He says, "Recently we purchased some relatively high-end refurbished equipment with ve-year warran-
ties, which we feel is a very sustainable practice. We are able to reuse some gently used computers, which are very
high-quality computers, and should work very well for our staff for many years before we end up recycling them.
The refurbished equipment is saving us at least 50 percent up front, and should it work well in its ve-year life span,
then the savings should be about 50 percent, which in this initial trial should be greater than $125,000."
A rigorous cost/bene t analysis took warranties largely out of the picture at the Iowa City Community School
District. David Dude, the COO/CTO for the district, explains that the decision to forgo warranties evolved during
the creation and implementation of a computer allocation system. Instead of buying the pricey warranties for new
computers, Dude calculated the cost and determined that the money could best be spent elsewhere.
"We could take about a third of that money to buy additional computers and have a source for parts and replace-
ments," he says. "Now when a computer has a problem, we can just swap it out because we have a replacement.
The end user does not have to wait for the work to get done."
This process of "cannibalizing" has applied only to desktops and laptops, so far. "For the other hardware we're
buying, such as projectors and document cameras, we just take the standard warranty that comes with it," says
Dude. "We're kind of early on in adopting that technology, and we're not sure what the life cycle will be."
According to David Wu, assistant superintendent for the Hawaii State Department of Education's Of ce of
Information Technology Services, "When warranties tend to be cost-prohibitive, schools are advised to purchase
additional units to be deployed as loaners, or serve as a bank of spare parts, for any unit that may need repair."
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