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April 25, 2014

GMC surplus computers helping county schools

MILLEDGEVILLE — Within a month’s time, Georgia Military College will send 55 computers to deserving local schools, as part of an ongoing community education enhancement initiative.

The Baldwin County Board of Education is receiving the equipment.

GMC President Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV (Ret.) said many local teachers are handicapped with “antiquated technology.” He noticed it firsthand with a son at Creekside Elementary.

“Here we are trying to bring students into the age of technology where they become comfortable working online, and we don’t give our teachers equipment that’s comparable to what they are being asked to do,” Caldwell said. “We’ve got the dedicated teachers. What we need now is more modern technology in the hands of the educators.”

Communities In Schools of Milledgeville/Baldwin County (CISMBC) Executive Director Sandy Baxter credits Caldwell with this helpful idea.

“One of the goals of Communities In Schools is to bring resources into the schools through partnerships and collaborations,” Baxter said. “Any resources coming into our schools help the students because that leaves money for the schools to purchase other equipment.”

Baxter said the county schools generally have “extremely outdated equipment that is breaking down.”

GMC replaces an average of 200 to 250 computers each year across the entire institution, according to the school’s replacement schedule. The replaced inventory comes back to the Milledgeville campus for processing.

Jody Yearwood, GMC’s vice president of Information Technology & Online Campus, said the complete computer systems’ depreciated value falls just under $16,000.

“This will hopefully become an ongoing initiative as we replace our technology on a five-year cycle,” Yearwood said. “As we replace things and take computers and technology out of our inventory, we’ll be able to transfer them directly.”

The hard drive cleaning and other tasks readying the units for transfer is handled internally.

“It’s a contribution we are making to the community,” Caldwell said. “Jody gets the teams together. Our vice president of engineering does all of the manual collection, and Jody and his team get (the computers) all set to go. If they aren’t in good condition, we won’t pass them.”

In past years, GMC distributed the older state surplus units to non-profit organizations using Digital Bridges as the facilitator. Digital Bridges then sent the “up-cycled” computers to Sinclair Christian Academy, local churches and the Baldwin County BOE during that older program.

“Since we don’t have that mechanism in place, we can’t transfer to 501 (c) 3’s anymore,” Yearwood said. “What we did find out is that we can do interagency transfers with other state organizations.”

Yearwood said GMC should provide the BOE with an accurate computer relocation schedule one year in advance. Hopefully, the BOE Technology Director Vickie Harmon can adjust budget plans with the cost savings.

“In an ideal environment, they don’t have to buy as many and can use that funding to maintain and upgrade other [computers] to really get a much better IT structure,” the GMC president said. “That’s $15,000 they don’t have to spend.”

Caldwell said the overall goal is offering Baldwin County children a much better “state-of-the-art” educational experience than they presently have.

“It’s wonderful when a community partner comes in to help our students because it helps everyone in Milledgeville when they have the right tools to succeed,” the CISMBC director said. “I commend Gen. Caldwell for his dedication to help this community. It’s going to be an exciting program.”

Baxter said she hopes this initiative encourages other state agencies to think outside the box with old equipment instead of sending it to Atlanta surplus storage.

 

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