At a Tuesday meeting the Piedmont Board of Education declared the computers to be surplus items, a move that allows the school board to solicit bids for each individual device. By offering each device for sale individually the school system is, in effect, giving students the chance to purchase the older devices.
“To follow the state law we have to put them out to bid,” Superintendent Matt Akin said. “I have had dozens of people ask what the process will be. I wish there could be another process.”
The school system is selling the first generation of MacBooks it issued to students in 2010 when it began providing those in grades four through 12 with computers they can take home.
Akin said the school system would begin the formal bid solicitation process within the next two weeks by placing advertisements in The Piedmont Journal. Two weeks after the first advertisement runs people can begin putting bids in for the devices, he said.
The highest bidder will win, Akin added saying that the school system will set a minimum bid for each of the devices.
In March the system purchased new devices to replace those being sold; the new devices will be issued to students for the next school year.
Akin has said that like home computers, cell phones and other devices, the students' laptops must be updated periodically to remain current and function. The newer devices, MacBook Airs, are lighter, faster and more sturdy than the white, plastic-shell MacBooks they are replacing.
While the board decided to release 400 of the used devices, it also decided to retain 450 older plastic-shell computers to be used by students in the lower level grades and to be loaned to students in case one of the newer devices is damaged or in need of repair.
At the Tuesday meeting Akin also told the board that a state-required fund that is required to hold one-month’s operating reserve is slightly depleted from a year ago. The fund holds $650,000, $10,000 less than it held a year ago.
Akin said the decline can be attributed to increased utility and internet fees.
Though the fund is slightly down Akin said the system is still in relatively “good shape.”
The school board also slightly amended the next year’s academic schedule due to an oversight in a calendar it adopted earlier this year. Instead of ending May 23 in 2014, the school year will end May 22.
Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.