For a number of years, the ADM Schools – like many districts in the area – has been covered by an equipment breakdown insurance plan, where the district pays an annual premium and most equipment repairs – be it computer repair or vacuum cleaner repair – would be covered by the insurance policy.
As our computer fleet aged, culminating in an average computer age of 9 years just a year and a half ago, this insurance coverage proved useful and, in some years, a bargain. Thanks to the voter-approved PPEL levy, however, the district’s average computer age is now just under one year, and instances of failures requiring repair are far less frequent. This has translated to far lower repair costs incurred by the district on an annual basis, and this is a reduction that we expect to be permanent, given the district’s commitment to regular replacement and upgrade cycles. Unfortunately, despite our reduction in recouped repair costs, the district saw its premium for this year increase significantly, such that no realistic repair projections would result in the district coming out ahead (or even close to it) vis-a-vis repair costs vs. insurance premium.
As such, the ADM School Board decided not to renew our insurance plan. This has created an opportunity for us in the technology department to evaluate how efficient and cost-effective our repair processes are, and have resulted in some changes that we think will result in significant savings of money that I’d much rather see spent on student learning than on equipment repair. The most significant change – made possible by the unrelated addition of a half-time technician in August, 2013 – is that we have moved to completing most repairs in-house. For instance, rather than paying over $400 for Apple to replace a failed iMac hard drive, we can do the same in house for less than $70. Replacing a failed solid state disk (SSD) in a MacBook Air would be almost $600 through Apple, and costs us less than $160 to complete in-house. Further, we’ve been able to refine our repair processes to the point that few repairs take more than 30 minutes to complete, so time investment has not been cumbersome.
Next on our plate is to work on iPad repair, specifically in terms of screen replacement. As a district, we have over 400 iPads in circulation and over the past year and two months since they were purchased, we have – stunningly – only had one broken screen, which occurred earlier this school year. David and I will be working on repairing the screen – a task that frequently costs more than the value of the iPad – using a kit that we purchased for $120.
There will, of course, be repairs that we are not equipped to handle – or to efficiently handle – in house, and for those services the district will continue to make use of authorized repair centers as we have in the past. In the meantime, though, I’m excited about a change that should save the district a significant amount of money while actually improving repair time and resulting in no drop in quality of service.