Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
Sandia National Laboratories’ discarded computers, laptops and iPads are turning into much-needed technology treasure for school districts around New Mexico.
Personnel from schools in Albuquerque, Hatch Valley, Socorro and Silver City were among those with pickups, U-Hauls and trailers carrying off almost 1,200 computers and other equipment Monday from Kirtland Air Force Base.
“I think every school has needs for upgrades in technology equipment,” said Chris Montaño, a fifth grade teacher from Duranes Elementary School in the North Valley. “But for students to have access to this is great. Even secondhand material to them is brand-new. This is my eighth year doing this, and the equipment keeps getting better and better.”
The equipment donated through the Sandia National Laboratories’ K-12 computer donation event went to nearly 80 schools in 12 counties.
“We collect all of our excess property and store it here,” said Joseph Giron, a supervisor with Sandia’s Property Management and Reapplication Department. He said Sandia communicated with school districts before the event about their needs. Pallets are put together for smaller schools. They try to put together pallets for larger school districts as well, but Sandia allows those schools to sort through what it has.
The pallet for Duranes Elementary School included six laptops, 25 desktop computers and 35 monitors. Montaño was waiting around to see if 10 more desktop computers were available.
“We’re going to repurpose them and put them in the classroom,” he said.
Giron said Sandia National Laboratories regularly acquires new computers to keep up with advances in technology. His department stores the equipment the new computers replace. If the equipment is 2 to 3 years old, he said, Sandia tries to find another use for it.
The equipment being donated to the schools is 5 to 7 years old, he said. The computers and computer parts would probably end up in landfills if not donated to the schools, he said.
“This way lessens the burden on the taxpayers,” Giron said. “All of this equipment is free for schools to use. All they have to do is furnish the transportation.”
“This is very helpful,” said Isaac Garcia, a security tech/information technology tech for Hatch Valley Schools. “Money is tight for the schools. … We’re packaging this for all of our labs.”
He didn’t have a total for all of the equipment he was taking back for his district.
“We’re taking whatever we can get,” Garcia said. “We have five pallets for five schools.”
Since the program’s inception, Sandia has donated more than 17,200 desktop, iPad and laptop computers to state schools. Sandia’s K-12 program was created in 2003 to streamline the transfer of federal computer equipment into classrooms.