Update: Schools Buy $81 Million In New Computers Despite Complaints of Small Screens, Other Flaws





In Broward’s public schools, the new computers are derided as Len-No-No.

The Chinese-owned company Lenovo computers’ 11-inch screen are too small, say teachers. The devices are rinky-dink because they are cheaply built. They break down repeatedly.

The computers are also woefully underpowered. Many have 2 GB and others are 4 GB, according to bid documents obtained by Browardbeat.com.

They are equipped with either 32 GB or 64 GB hard drives. After loading the Windows 10 OS there is inadequate room for apps, say computer nerds commenting online and in interviews.

No doubt, the Lenovos will run applications.  Whether these machines are geared for the future is another question.

The rest of the world is going towards higher-powered computers and cells because of the trend towards towards more complicated software with big, bolder graphics and elaborate videos.  That’s what the younger generations demand.

“If you’re buying a new system today, you might reasonably opt for an 8GB model, just to be assured of a degree of future-proofing,” wrote PCAuthority last year.

Yet the School Board is plunging ahead with buying new 2GB and 4GB Lenovos.  This is a big deal since at $81 million, the Lenovos are probably the biggest single purchase by the School Board in the past few years.

You can thank Broward Schools Technology guru Tony Hunter and School Superintendent Robert Runcie. Hunter’s dodging and weaving at a School Board meeting on the computers last month proves this is a guy who could sell sand to Saudi Arabia. That’s especially true when he’s techno speaking. Techno speech leaves the School Board stumbling.


Freedman: Students Pan Lenovo


But members do know what they hear in the schools, from teachers and other staff. What they hear is not good for Lenovo.

Member Patty Good said she heard some “not very positive comments” about the computers.

Member Robin Bartleman noted that she has received complaints about the screen size.

Screen size is something that have increased in mobiles and laptops, but not at the Broward schools.

But it was member Abby Freedman who shined. She said students also have told her that the screen size was too small.

She described how when she went into schools, she talked to children about using the computers.

“The end users are the children.  When I’m in the classroom, I’m not talking to the teachers. I’m not talking to the principals.”

Technology boss Hunter conceded that he confined his discussions with principals.

Students told her the screen was so small they could not open several windows at once, which is what they needed to do for their classwork, Freedman said.

She noted that the School Board, which continues to use Apples, and staff have bigger screens.  “The student devices have smaller screens,” conceded Hunter.

“You are asking me for $81 million that the children when I’m in the schools are telling me that they are not able to use them,” Freedman said.

Then she hammered into the finances.

Freedman asked why was $81 million all going to Lenovo? Why not buy computers from more than one source?



Abby Freedman


Hunter fired back that it was better to have standardization across the school system. So he was recommending all Lenovo computers.

He pointed out that his office did a survey of users and that there were no big problems with Lenovo.

But the survey went to almost everybody with a computer – teacher, principals and staff. More than 15,000.

Hunter admitted he got back only 49 responses!

Maybe it was the snappy title: “Technology Compatibility Devices.”


Hunter promised to “reach out” to principals “in the next month”  — again, not students or teachers — to survey them again. Wanna guess what those folks, who owe their jobs to Runcie, are going to say about Len-No-No?

I got a survey for Runcie and Hunter. It’s the gold standard of consumer surveys from Consumer Reports – 58,710 laptop users answered it.

Consumer Reports found that of those users, 10 percent of the Apple users had repairs and serious problems in the first three years, compared to 18 percent for Lenovo.

It could be argued that K-12 students are even tougher on computers than the average Consumer Reports survey taker.

Runcie had the final word before the vote. “So if we don’t approve this item, Understand what you are doing. … We are going to be delaying the deployment of technology devices to the schools.”

The School Board agreed to buy the Lenovo computers by a razor thin margin – 5-4.

Bartleman, Freedman, Good and Nora Rupert voted against it, wanting to delay until March 1 for more information.

Voting to buy the machines called flawed by a number of the staff were Donna Korn, Heather Brinkworth, Laurie Rich Levinson, Ann Murray and Rosalind Osgood.

True Or Just Spin?


Was Runcie telling all the facts when he claimed the purchase needed to be made immediately?

The school system already purchased 131,000 new Lenovos in the past five years. (This belies the claim during the $800 million 2014 bond referendum campaign that the money was needed to buy computers. Thousands of them were being bought every month, but that’s another issue.)

What would another couple of months cost the system? Runcie said it would cost them money because Lenovo was offering a good price. Maybe.

Some would argue the purchase was big enough that Lenovo would always offer a good price if they wanted to close the deal. Maybe a good price with larger screens. Besides, according to Bid documents some of the computers were not in production yet. “Ship support begins in April” states one page of the bid document.

At one point during the February debate, Hunter bragged to the Board about the low price of Lenovos.

Broward is buying 45,000 Lenovo computers for under $229 and 20,000 of those are priced at $199, according to the bid documents. What was left unsaid in the room was that these computers are being paid for with bond dollars over the next 30 years.

Hunter crowed that Broward is buying four Lenovos for the price of one Apple, the machine’s used before Runcie arrived.

I guess that Hunter and Runcie never heard the famous quote from John Ruskin, the Victorian era English social critic:

“It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money – that’s all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.”

Or in modern terms, You Get What You Pay For.



N-22 - 2 GB


38 Responses to “Update: Schools Buy $81 Million In New Computers Despite Complaints of Small Screens, Other Flaws”

  1. 10th Floor says:

    Best story yet on what is happening in the schools. Many complaints received .Sup Runcie doesn’t care because he’s out the door.

  2. A reader says:

    Are the classroom computers used mainly for testing as required by the state or are they actually used to teach curriculum in core classes?

    If used mostly for testing, the state should ante up.

  3. outrageousme says:

    One outrageous act after another.
    The School Board members that voted in favor of this purchase are brain dead.
    I am shocked at Donna Korn.
    What is going on over there???

  4. Trudy Jermanovich says:

    I am outraged that the School Board did not postpone this purchase. As a retired teacher with 35 years experience using a variety of technological devices in real classrooms, I’ve spoken at several prior meetings about how this purchase should be reconsidered and that this was the type of decision which should have been made by actual teachers, not administrators who have never taught a day in their life. Some board members were obviously swayed by the low cost so that more devices could be purchased. It’s not the number of devices in schools that matter, it’s the educational benefit to using a device that matters. I’ve often referenced a small district in Minnetonka, MN which actually took several years and got voter approval before they went a very different route. They felt that laptops were only appropriate in a few instances, and that the future, even in business, was with tablets. They chose iPads for their 1:1 initiative because they could also tap textbook resources to help in this purchase. You try to read a book on a Lenovo laptop vs. an iPad. It’s not physically comfortable and the available resources are not nearly as rich. As I stated at the meetings, I believe the truth is that Lenovo’s were chosen because they fit in with what the non-educators running the School Board really only care about regarding technology. Does it make it easier for the district to have students do test prep, testing, and what they call “Competency Based Classes”? Can the district be constantly collecting data on our students and providing that data to testing companies or Microsoft? Yes, high school students are being required to become “certified” in using Microsoft Word within their English classes. Not a separate class, let’s just take more time away from reading and discussing novels or other actual learning activities. Lenovo’s fit the bill in this regard (if they have enough power and don’t have broken parts). I believe the vote on this purchase will be seen as one of the biggest mistakes of Mr. Runcie’s tenure and will be a question for School Board members as they run for office in the future. My question will be, “Why wasn’t a major, anonymous survey done of all 15,000 educators who will be using these devices before the School Board approved $81 MILLION in bond issue money?” This survey should have been done by an outside agency so it did not appear that someone high up in the organization was pushing these inferior Lenovo devices off on our students and teachers. The 49 people who answered the in-house survey is not exactly a representative sample.


    Your idea about having an outside firm do the survey is a very good one.

  5. Peter McIntosh says:

    Is the IPad screens too small.

    Is the screen for PD Iphone 6s, too small?

    Should each computer have a 22-inch monitor?

    Should the district buy 100 Apple State of the art computers or 200 more affordable units?

    I am not sure!!!!

  6. Trudy Jermanovich says:

    Here’s some info on the MN School System and technology.

    The changing landscape of the world’s information to digital form will require today’s student to have a different set of skills than what was required just a decade ago. Future graduates must be equipped with not just the three R’s, but also with 21st century skills of problem solving, critical thinking, communication, and technological literacy. Students will need to be able to quickly find, synthesize and communicate information and collaborate with colleagues–not just in their own office, but within a global community of colleagues and customers.

    Minnetonka Public Schools want to ensure students develop the skills and knowledge necessary to responsibly navigate this emerging modern world. Therefore, Minnetonka Public Schools has implemented a 1:1 (student to computing device) program using the Apple iPad to create a seamless and dynamic educational experience for students.

    The goals of the 1:1 program are:

    Enhance and accelerate learning
    Leverage technology for individualizing instruction
    Promote collaboration, increasing student engagement
    Strengthen the 21st century skills necessary for future student success.

    The technology also increases access to digital curriculum, in place of traditional print textbooks and classroom equipment. The opportunity to use 1:1 devices gives students access to anywhere, anytime learning.

  7. WestDavieResident says:

    2 or 4 MB of memory is woefully inadequate as is drive size of 32 gig for the hardware being bought.

    These laptops will be nothing more than door stops within a few short years. Sad when taxpayers will be paying for them over 30 years.

    Most kids these days, and the educational software applications, are trending towards tablets. The school board could have at least bought convertible 2 in 1 laptops like the Microsoft Surface or Lenovos’ Yoga. Students need quality computers and not commodity technology.

    And about the great price Hunter is crowing about? Look at any Office Depot or Staples ad each Sunday for comparable or better deals.

    Are 5 of the Board members that clueless? Maybe they should sit in on some STEM classes or computer club meeting to get a reality check.


    Those computer club members had better bring their own computers to meetings. Otherwise, they could spend the whole meeting waiting for the software to open.

  8. Business as Usual says:

    Are you surprised the school system is again wasting millions of dollars on computers which will need to be replaced very quickly? Trust me when I say staff, who I speak with, call the pieces of crap Lov-no-no. There is not enough memory, the computers are slow, and break easily. Still Mr. Hunter and Mr. Runcie are able to get the majority of the board to vote for an inferior product. In response to Mr. Hunter’s claim computers have not been purchased in the recent past, here are some examples. Title I has been purchasing computers for their schools during the past 2 to 3 years. Digital 5 was implemented during the past 3 to 4 years and most, if not all, of the middle schools have received laptop carts for the reading and math classes in all 3 grades. Now the district is providing carts for the 4 and 5 grade classes. The statement regarding the purchase of computers is incorrect. Oh, I forgot the SSOS schools received a large number of computers as well. Buddy forgot to mention, Mr. Hunter was hired as the technology guru for a very short time then left the district and the district hired him back. Wondering how long he is planning to stay this time?

  9. Tired teacher says:

    I notice when I watch the school board meetings, there are MACS in front of the board members. Hmmmm.

  10. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    Why would Runcie & Co. have an outside firm do the survey? They don’t want to hear anything but what they want to hear.

    I’m surprised at Heather Brinkworth, not at all shocked by Donna Korn.

  11. Wonderful says:

    It looks like the School Board just bought the last of Lenovo’s 2013 inventory.

    I didn’t realize anyone still sold 2GB Celerons with a 32GB drive. The specs say they include Windows 10. They’re probably Windows 7 units and someone will have to manually update each one to Windows 10 using the free upgrade.

  12. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    15 000 questionaires and only 49 responses! Did I read the figures correctly?
    Is a real Administration accepting this kind of FAILURE TO RESPOND RATE?

    I have NEVER heard of such a high failure rate. HOW CAN A MAJORITY OF THE BOARD ACT AFTER SUCH AN ADMISSION OF GROSS MANAGEMENT FAILURE to achieve such a disgraceful result? What was in the majority’s minds?


    Yes, that is not a typo. Only 49 responses.

  13. Ripped Off Again says:

    who made the ‘deal’ and commission? how obsolete was the equipment? Close-outs and cut-outs from Crazy Eddie in NYC?
    Software was extra? Who brokered that and who got a kick back?

  14. Roger Moore says:

    We have old Lenovo’s at our school. The batteries aren’t under warranty anymore. They just updated to OS8 but the county keeps pushing out new updated, literally almost everyday. The young kids have a lot of problems just signing in to the windows computers, then they will update while the kids are using them. I have to send some down to my Tech. every single week because of windows problems. I almost never have a full class set. The problem isn’t so much the Lenovo laptops but how the district sends out updates.

    Of course we want all of our students to get a laptop, but what are the long term costs of these? I’m sure it adds up to close to the same amount as Apples.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Ms. Freedman hit the nail on the head. The students are the ones who use these devices to learn. Somebody needs to talk to them.The idea that these computers were bought after only surveying 49 people is criminal. Makes this taxpayer and teacher wonder why this heavy pressure to buy Lenovo.

    Hunter and Runcie’s insistence to get all their feedback from principals is typical of a system run by a superintendent who never wants to hear any criticism or different points of view. This Board needs to put their feet down before we are stuck with these INFERIOR LEN-NO-NO’s forever.

  16. An Observation says:

    I seriously question using 10% of the bond money to purchase computers that will last, at best, 5 years. It is a 30 year bond issue and purchases of capital should last a good part of the bond.

    In 5 years, where is the School Board going to get the money to purchase new computers? Using a long term payback for a short term solution was a bad idea.

    It was not a fiscally sound decision. Proving again why we should have voted against the bond issue.

    But never fear. I won’t be paying it back since I will be moving soon enough out of this badly run county (with many of my friends). It is those that follow that will be most negatively effected.

  17. 30 Year Debt says:

    The bigger issue here is why are they buy devices which are already obsolete with 30 year debt? 30 year debt people! Those computers are already obsolete and many of you will be dead long before we are done paying for them. This is the real travesty…not what brand or how big the screen is.

  18. mustbecrazy says:

    Get rid of Runcie, get rid of the entrenched staff, get rid of the majority of the board. This has been said time and time again, and yet here we are again, it will never happen. We will be complaining next year, the year after and so on. Blame any number of factors; voter apathy being one and the lack of internal fortitude, by those that can make a change, being another. Broward’s children will still be behind the curve.

  19. FINALLY says:

    The truth about the Lenovo contract is finally surfacing! They are the worst computers I have ever been FORCED to use, in all my years as an educator. I had to purchase my own personal laptop to get my work done efficiently, yet this is the technology we are claiming will propel our students to be “College and Career Ready.” I’ve got news for you, colleges, businesses and corporations are not using these $200 glorified typewriters. I still feel that the Superintendent and the Board members should try using the student Lenovos for at least a week before deciding on this purchase. Most of them are in repair. They are basically a throw away device like a pair of airplane headphones. The screen is too small, they are slow and inefficient and they are not at all resilient. Someone must be getting a kickback for this deal. If Tony Hunter really truly believes this is a great piece of technology, I question not only his intelligence but his competence as CIO and IT. Actually, I’ve been questioning that since he changed the name from IT to I & T but that is a different conversation. The Board members need to get out into the schools and into the classrooms before making these decisions. Talk to the Tech Specialists, teachers and students.
    And “Peter McIntosh,” you get what you pay for. You can purchase 81 million dollars worth of scrap that will last two years if we’re lucky or you can purchase 81 million dollars worth of quality technology. In spite of Tony Hunter’s attempt to remove the Macs that are left in the schools, many are still holding onto them with a death grip. I have been in schools and seen ten year old Macs running more efficiently than brand new LeNoNos. Why are you so threatened by the concept of dual platform? Are your I & T people not equipped to manage two platforms? Are they as incompetent as their leader? Or is someone getting a huge kickback? If we were going to single platform, why not DELL? I know thats a sore subject as well.

  20. Buy Cheap, Get Cheap says:

    The surest thing ever written is you get what you pay for. Runcie and his troll Hall are buying the cheapest junk imaginable. When they break and prove inadequate, expect them back asking for more money for a. new machines or b. repairs.

  21. Electric Eye says:

    Has anyone seen or know where the chauffeur is?

  22. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    16 n 17 right that to comingle capital n operating expenses is a MAJOR if not the CARDINAL ERROR in budgeting n financial management ALWAYS

  23. shekfu says:

    I’m no computer geek but at my store we have numerous different kinds of computers purchased at different times as needed…fixing them is simply harder because they are not all the same…so with lower tech models with limited app capacity seems wise when it thousands of kids will sometimes be fooling with them…the boards get a pass on this one

  24. Not surprised says:

    @21. The chauffeur I assume you mean the Israel Canales? He is still under an investigation and was removed and placed at the bus lot. Runcie I heard and his team of HIS “Detectives” Jillian Haring, Fred Davenport and Edward Costello are working hard at making it all disappear and clearing him (think hard Williams and Pollack are all of a sudden gone) wonder why now? I presume it’s a matter of time before everything eventually comes out …
    Maybe the Board Members can explain ?

  25. Anonymous says:

    Lots of my students have iPhones that can do more things than these computers.

  26. Vote out Osgood says:

    Nathalie Lynch-Walsh has filed to run for District 5 school board.

  27. Make the Board use them for a week says:

    The Superintendent and the Board members should try using the student Lenovos for at least a week before deciding on this purchase….

    Buddy is there any way to stop this or it a done deal? 81 millions????????? I want to vomit


    If a majority of the School Board agrees to reconsider, there is always a way to stop the deal.

  28. Dr. Who says:

    People here talk about how surprised they are of the Board Members, listen to the meeting everyone of them get private one on one meetings to discuss what is on the agenda.

    Anyone that thinks this crap isn’t planned, doesn’t have a clue.

  29. Amazing Karnack says:

    Karnack LHAO. Karnack says if anyone interested do a public records request on the chauffeur. Karnack says the chauffeur used his school board credit card to book an interesting intimate private rendezvous. Karnack can’t stop laughing. Karnack says it will take serious cover up to hide the documents already circulating around the district.

    Karnack says not that they won’t try. Karnack says chauffeur knows were many bones buried. Karnack says they will try hard to make the whole thing just go away. Karnack says once they decide too much heat and documentation then the chauffeur will resign to take care of his ill mother.

    Karnack says many more details to be exposed on the chauffeur and the computers.

    Karnack says oh by the way the board has sold bonds and is paying interest on the first go round of loans. Karnack says it has been almost a year and a half since bond has been approved. Karnack says can you tell me how many bond projects have started? Karnack says forget started can you tell me how many architects have been hired to design the projects? Karnack says it’s not a hard number to count up to. Karnack says the number is 0. Karnack says WTF 0 ……….

    Karnack LOL

  30. moreofthesamecrap says:

    And they say no one every audits the P-Cards…

  31. Electric eye says:

    WTF 0 again!

  32. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    How many people in each school board district have children vs how many people vote n you will see NO ONE CARES EXCEPT DR RUNCIE s crowd n the small cadre of personal followers of the school board members AND OF COURSE VENDORS N THEIR LOBBYISTS.
    I believe I live in Dr Rosalind Osgood’s School District. My White neighbors couldnt care less about PUBLIC schools while my Black neighbors are exhausted from lack of job opportunities financial problems including the real estate collapse that hit Black homeowners the worst n many are ardent Church goers who are impressed with Dr Rosalind Osgood’s “missionary work” and Church activities.
    As far as I can tell Dr Osgood has ties to Black leadership and if “gossip” items ON THIS BLOG ARE ACCURATE she has good relations with the Gay Community which does have a presence in her School District.
    So although I am appalled by Dr Rosalind Osgood I see little chance THE VOTERS IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD WILL CHANGE FROM A CANIDATE THEY KNOW TO A ” new persom ” who serves on an obscure committee that has no power to do anything n therefore gets zero press coverage or media attention.
    The unexpected rise of Donald Trump has shown us publicity is the currency of politics today.
    The public DOES NOT CARE to spend time or effort or money on reforming anything.

  33. Laughable says:

    First, please #32, stop with the “Dr. Runcie.” As for the 30 year debt, I do not think it would be wise to pay for technology that will be obsolete by next year, for 30 years.
    I would also like to address #23. IMPORTANT INFO: The biggest problem with the Lenovos is that there is no way to protect them. The students can destroy them by simply setting a password on the bios. Lenovo has no way to remove it so the motherboard has to be replaced which costs almost the same as a new computer. So the Board members don’t get a “pass” on this one. They need to get a clue.
    I would like to leave you with this thought. My cellphone has more storage space than these computers. How will these computers run programs and applications? The School Board is about to spend $81 million for a typewriter so they can brag about quantity. Will they include the number of devices that are actually working when they report the number of computers that are in our schools? The 6th largest school district in the country paying $81 million debt for obsolete technology over a 30 year period? We are a joke!

  34. Look at budgets says:

    Look at technology budgets from before the bond was passed. This money was allocated pre-bond, sitting in an account. Whether the bond passed or not, this order was happening – so it is questionable if this is really a 30 year payout or coming from another line item. That’s something Buddy may be able to help out with deciphering. What I’m wondering is what happens to the new Lenovo’s already at school sites?


    You are right. The bond campaign was a lie — I said this at the time — because Superintendent Robert Runcie and company created the impression that the money was needed or the school system wouldn’t get technology improvements. They were buying new computers for many years without the bond money.

    That said, who knows how the computers are being financed? Runcie and company have said that technology improvements were being paid for by the bonds. Then they said that the technology improvements would be funded from the first bonds to be paid off — in something like five years. The only thing less opaque and less truthful than Runcie’s administration is Vladamir Putin’s.

  35. A concerned parent says:

    You are all shocked? Look at the 1998 buses that are transporting our kids!
    This is embrassing! My kids ride those buses, they are dirty and mold filled. Yet the head lady of transportation gets a nice new explorer. I’ve seen her at my kids school. How is that possible. Please buddy can you investigate, this? Thanks

  36. Just Asking says:

    @#29 – So Canales used School Board credit card…Does not it qualify for immediate firing of Canales? Why spending more tax payer dollars going through the BS investigation? Does not the useless School Board members get? Why are those 9 stooges are silent about this serious issue?

    I think FBI needs to step in and take over KCW. I hear that lot of people took undue benefits from Canales. In exchange they turned a blind eye on every… activities Canales was involved in.

  37. Answering says:

    @36- you must have missed the fine print as the SBBC policies do not pertain to Runcie and his STAFF, Mr. Canales and the Chicago mob.
    The BS investigation is only to waste time figuring out how to do the cover up. While Runcie continues paying Canales his ridiculously amazing salary as he makes sure he is hidden him from the public.
    The evidence is there and proven but several of the 9 stooges have received the benefits from Canales also that’s why there are no questions..you want them to look bad too? The FBI seems like the next logical answer in this.
    Many lawyers involved. I am thinking Runcies days are limited.

  38. A mystery says:

    Anyone figure out who this Lady Jillian Haring is that Runcie has put in charge and has no boundaries?
    She is rude and has the biggest attitude. She has “no ones” respect except Runcie and his staffs.
    She has no clue about customer service skills which Runcie once thrived on.
    There must be some issues going on with her that needs to be uncovered soon.
    I wish someone would help her with the way she carries herself it’s quite sad.

    Anyone have any insite on her ?