C4K … an obscure Star Wars character you can’t remember? A relative of R2-D2 or C-3PO? No.
C4K is not a robot, a drone, a person or any kind of Star Wars character. It’s an acronym for one of the state’s most successful and enduring educational technology programs – Computers 4 Kids.
For close to two decades, the C4K program has been distributing refurbished and lease-return computers to the state’s public schools.
The program is administered through OSPI in a partnership with the state Department of Enterprise Services (identification and pick-up of surplus and lease-return state computers), Department of Corrections (refurbishing the computers) and NEWESD 101 (redistribution back to schools).
In 2016, close to 6,100 computers were distributed to schools in 78 districts statewide. Since the program’s inception, nearly 100,000 computers have found new life in the classroom. Most surplus computers are refurbished at the Airway Heights Corrections Center near Spokane, although some lease-return computers go directly to qualified districts.
Schools pay a nominal fee, never exceeding $27 per computer. For that amount, the school receives, at minimum, an Intel-based dual core (or higher) desktop with keyboard and mouse, 4GB of RAM, 80 GB hard drive , CD-ROM, USB ports and a 15-inch or larger LCD flat-panel screen.
More than half the districts in the NEWESD 101 region have participated in the program since its inception.
“The Davenport School District has benefited greatly over several years from our participation,” says Superintendent Jim Kowalkowski. “It has helped us to update our technology equipment and saved us thousands of dollars.”
The East Valley School District has experience similar results, albeit on a much larger scale. “Computers 4 Kids has been a huge success at East Valley, providing a highly economical way to keep our technology current,” says Neale Rasmussen, director of Fiscal Services.
“We would not have been able to maintain our staff and student technology without the program. In the last 3 1/2 years, we’ve received 1,629 like-new computers that have saved us an estimated $900,000 over the cost of buying new. If we turn over the inventory every three years, our cost pencils out to less than 61 cents a month for each device.”
Calculated another way, one computer equals the price of two theater tickets to Star Wars. Any way you cut it, the price is right.