Mar 18 2008

One-to-One on a Shoestring

A Washington private school saves IT money by recycling computers.

Green IT is becoming one of the hottest trends in schools nationwide as school boards, parents and even students are demanding that schools — and their IT departments — save energy and recycle whenever possible.

Like other schools, the Evergreen School, a private K-8 academy in Shoreline, Wash., recycles old IT equipment when it outlives its usefulness. But Jimi Robinson, the school’s director of technology, takes the notion of recycling several steps further.

Every year, he holds a community recycling drive, where parents can drop off old computers and other equipment at the school. He checks every device, and if it’s still usable, he keeps it for the school. But if it’s junk, he hauls it off to the recycling center, where staffers break down the equipment and recover what’s reusable.

The Evergreen School has developed a one-to-one computing program, in which every classroom from fourth grade to eighth grade provides notebook computers for each student. But instead of purchasing new computers, Robinson leases two-year-old PCs. He’s also taken donations of older computers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“The whole purpose is to keep computers and other equipment out of landfills, and if we keep it and use it for a few more years, we are making sure it’s not going to landfills, and we make sure they are recycled,” Robinson says.

Robinson is also working to reduce the use of paper. Three years ago, the school eliminated paper report cards. Parents can now check their students’ grades and attendance records online. “The parents love it,” he says. “It’s more in-depth than a paper report card because you can attach files to it and parents can see their children’s work.”

Within the next year or two, Robinson hopes to implement a learning management system, so students can turn in their homework online, instead of printing it out and hand delivering it to their teachers.