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How schools around the country are turning dead Microsoft PCs into speedy Chromebooks

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The Ovid-Elsie school district sits an hour west of Flint, Michigan, the city now notorious for being poisoned by its own penny-pinching administrators. The district, which serves roughly 1,600 students, is one of the poorer areas in the state, with a per capita income of just over $15,000. "We’re looking at close to three-quarters of our kids [who] are classified as economically disadvantaged here," said Kris Kirby, the district’s assistant superintendent. So when it came time to find computer equipment for every classroom, Ovid-Elsie had to get creative.

The school was eager to experiment with Google Chromebooks, which have been sweeping the education market. But even those machines cost several hundred dollars each, far too much for Ovid-Elsie to afford one for every student. Dan Davenport, the director of technology for the area schools, had looked into using Chromium, the open-source version of Google’s Chrome operating system, but was stymied by the complexity of supporting a range of different drivers on a mishmash of old computers.

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