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Tossed Technology
Critics Claim County Is Wasting Money, Technology
November 5, 2013

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The new school excess levy, set to be voted on Saturday, supports several areas of need in the Kanawha County school system.

If it passes, the levy would provide money for the county library, school sports and technology, among many other things. But as Eyewitness News uncovered, when it comes to technology, some critics are questioning how the county is spending its money, or as they see it, "wasting" the money.

Behind the Kanawha County Operations building, piles of computer monitors, computer towers, televisions and smart boards are stacked up.

"It's a lot of money that's being wasted," said Shawn Due, a parent of a Kanawha County student. "It's just a lot of stuff they shouldn't have left out in the rain or whatever. It's a lot of stuff that could still be used."

A school worker who did not want to be identified agrees with Due and said the county is wasting taxpayers' money.

"There's tons and tons of televisions that could be sent and then fixed and then the computer themselves and the computer monitors," said the Kanawha County Schools worker, "They can all be fixed and repaired and used, but they'll claim they're outdated, they don't have enough memory for what they're using them for."

Kanawha County Superintendent Ron Duerring knows exactly how this looks to the public. He is concerned about critics' perception that the county is wasting, when Duerring said it is not.

"There could be a lot of reasons as to why that is there, it may not be all usable stuff," Duerring said, "A lot of that may be items we can't use any longer because it was cheaper to buy something new to replace it."

A school levy passed in 2009 and raised nearly $221 million,

About $11 million was used to buy the technology, some of which critics believe is now dumped outside and wasted.

"Most the schools use Dell computers and Apple computers," the Kanawha County Schools worker said. "All of them can be sent off and repaired with no problem. The cost versus fixing them versus buying new would be outlandishly different."

But how different?

One of the companies Kanawha County buys equipment from is HP.

A company representative said fixing some common problems such as hard drive crashes, broken screens and software updates costs about $400. A new computer costs about $800.

Due, the Kanawha County parent, believes a lot of people "should look to see how much money is really being wasted. I mean a lot of people are really getting mad about it because nobody cares."

Duerring said the board does care, especially about the future of students in Kanawha County.

"We have 71 facilities, 28,500 kids," Duerring said, "There's a lot of orders going out at various times for technology in the schools."

If the new levy on the ballot passes, the school system would get an extra $100 million over five years. Nearly $50 million of that would go toward new student technology. But critics contend it would be similar to what is already piled up outside the operations building.

Duerring said he believes passage of the levy is important "because as kids graduate and they go on, as you well know, even straight to a regular job from high school. All that now includes technology in some way, so our kids should be leaving our school system well versed in how to handle and use that technology."

Duerring insists that what is being thrown out is old technology. And it's out with the old and in with the new.

Eyewitness News spoke with computer experts who agree the equipment is outdated, but they suggest rather than just tossing the technology out, it should be donated. They suggested donating to community centers, senior centers, or even to some counties not so fortunate.

The special election for the excess levy is Saturday, Nov. 9.




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Tossed Technology
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