Round Rock ISD Students Repair Legacy Hardware for District Families

High schoolers in Texas are getting the chance to repair computers that are then distributed to district families. Round Rock Independent School District created a "Home Access Program" after the Board of Trustees there changed rules regarding how outdated computers could be discarded. Under the new policy, surplus laptops in the district warehouse can be reprogrammed and distributed free to students from low-income households.

During a spring pilot, 350 computers were distributed to families at two elementary schools and one middle school. Students from four high school career & technical education programs in information technology participated in the repair program. Supplies were made possible by a $12,500 grant from the district's Partners in Education Foundation.

A new round of repairs and distributions will expand distribution of the refurbished machines into four additional schools.

"This is a great opportunity for our students to get hands-on experience in tech repairs, not just having it explained to them," said Computer Technology Teacher Ricardo Olvera in a district article about the program. "It's a chance for them to actually look at different problems with laptops and everything that goes into a computer."

"The benefit of this program is that these students get an opportunity to do something in the real world," added Mark Gabehart, executive director of Technology & Information Services. "They get the chance to look at problems and how to fix them so I think it's a really positive experience." Gabehart's department is working with district purchasing and warehouse staff to run the program.

Said Senior Zach Martinez, who participated in the project, "I know that if I wanted to have a career in repairs, I can go to work at places like Best Buy or Geek Squad because of my experience with this class."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.