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Spokane School District, Libraries Work To Make Laptops Available To Students

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

On this day when children are opening gifts, it’s a good time to tell a story about a new partnership program between Spokane Public Schools and the Spokane city libraries. The goal is to help kids who don’t have the right technology at home.

The Spokane District has a lot of computers in its schools, many of them bought by taxpayers as a result of voter-approved bond issues. Each year, it sets aside about 2,500 computers for surplus. Administrators say, after six years, it’s a better use of money to replace them, rather than fix them.

Some of the used laptops are handed over to a group of students who clean them up, replace used parts, erase the contents and install versions of Microsoft Windows 10. And then, says Superintendent Shelley Redinger, the computers are donated to Spokane city libraries.

“Students can actually take them home and it really gets at that equity issue in terms of students who don’t have access to technology. So we’re doing that throughout the city and excited about that partnership,” Redinger said.

The partners held their first event a month or so ago at the Hillyard Library. About 30 Rogers High School students received laptops, along with training by IT people from the two entities. The district says Sprint has set up cellular hot spots where students can get Internet access.

District spokesman Brian Coddington says the students — or community partners who meet the program’s eligibility requirements — can check out the laptops for the rest of the school year. He says the student IT group is preparing about 25 computers a week. They’ll be ready to check out as they become available.