A total of 35 computers and iPads were missing and 125 such devices sat unused when an audit of the city school system’s tech contracts reviewed four campuses across the borough, city Comptroller Scott Stringer said earlier this month.
Stringer said the probe examined the city Department of Education’s inventory control of computer and electronic purchases through contracts with Apple and Lenovo and determined more than 1,800 computers were unaccounted for or missing and nearly 400 laptops and tablets were unpacked in 10 DOE locations.
Four electronics were unaccounted for and 120 unused at PS 152 in Woodside; six computers were missing and two iPads were not on an inventory list at JHS 217 in Jamaica; two iPads were not on an equipment list at PS 165 in Flushing; and 25 computers were unaccounted for and five devices unpackaged at Francis Lewis High School in Utopia, according to the audit.
“It is an insult to families who are desperate to access technology for their children to leave brand new computers and tablets unused in closets and storage facilities,” Stringer said in a statement. “If auditors can’t locate an average of 180 computers per DOE location, this may be just the tip of the iceberg.”
Stringer said the audit, which examined equipment purchased between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2013 at nine schools and one administrative site, found that the DOE does not maintain a central inventory system of computers. Instead, its asset management system database tracks purchases, but not where they wind up. The department has each school compile annual inventory lists, which are not reconciled with the asset management system, he said.
The agency’s official response to the audit contended that the comptroller did not examine the DOE’s full inventory process and therefore gave an inaccurate impression.
It also maintained that a single centralized inventory system, as Stringer’s team recommended, would not be cost effective or practical.
“We are training teachers to use technology effectively through expanded professional development, working to find cost-effective and practical solutions that safeguard technology in schools and administrative offices, and identifying ways to catalogue all equipment to ensure we are using all available resources to serve our students,” DOE Deputy Press Secretary Yuridia Pena said in a statement.
The department said it has tasked all central offices and schools with updating or creating inventory lists this academic year and will use the audit’s recommendations to create a practical tracking system.
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