Legislation helps agencies donate computer equipment

Both the Washington state House and Senate have passed bills that would cut out the red tape on computer equipment donations to schools by state agencies.

The private sector in Washington has long been a friend of schools when it comes to donating surplus computer equipment to schools. That has not been the same case for state agencies, which are currently hampered by state rules. Before an agency can give equipment to a school, it must first alert the state Department of General Administration, which puts a priority on giving the equipment to other agencies that could make use of it. The state also requires that an agency receives fair market value for the equipment being sold.

That should change soon with the passage of separate bills in the state House and Senate. The bills would allow agencies to donate computers to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, which would then distribute the equipment on a needs-first basis among Washington schools.

The House bill includes a few more details that are not part of the Senate version, such as giving preference to students with disabilities. The bill would also let the Office of Public Instruction donate its own surplus computers and would allow the state’s legislative branch to get into the act as well.

Lawmakers are expected to hammer out a single version of the two bills this spring. The bills were prompted by lawmakers’ concerns that there is an unmet need for technology in Washington schools.

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