Cambridge School Department officials said yesterday they have asked Harvard and other area universities to help them to relieve a chronic shortage of computers in the public schools.
Joanne Krepulka, coordinator of technology for the school department, said the idea to supply schools with used computers from universities was a product of brainstorming by the Citywide Technology Advisory Group, which she supervises.
The proposal, which follows a particularly difficult school budget process is intended to save the School Department money and provide much needed technical improvements, Krepulka said.
"There is no way I can get the quantity of computers needed in the schools other than by a creative endeavor such as this," she said.
Harvard officials said yesterday they are meeting with the school department this month to see what can be done to meet their needs.
David Etheridge of the Technology Product Center (TPC) said yesterday his office is working with the school department and hopes to allow the school department to purchase computers traded in by members of the Harvard community.
"Typically, we have [one] trade-in day a month which may be used toward purchases from TPC. We're going to try to work with the Cambridge Public Schools to be the broker," Etheridge said.
Dennis Devlin, the manager of the TPC, says the school department asked him to provide Macintosh computers at low cost or to provide a place for students to donate their computers to the Cambridge public school system.
"Our current thought is to pick a date in May. We will either have places where people can donate computers or we may even pick them up," he said.
Usually an average of 20 computers are traded in each month, Devlin said. These machines are usually purchased by an outside agency, Devlin said.
Krepulka said the city currently owns 25/Apple IIEs, but software manufactures no longer make programs compatible with those machines.
She said she hopes Harvard will help her to replace these machines with modern Macintosh computers. "I'm looking to move [the schools] into the Mac world," Krepulka said.