ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – While kids get back to school, Albuquerque Public Schools is trying to get back devices given to students during the pandemic. “Now that we’re back into school face-to-face, we can get a better idea on what our inventory is for Chromebooks and iPads,” said Shellmarie Harris, Executive Director of Educational Technology for APS.

The district said it’s missing about 2% of Chromebooks. That shakes out to a little less than a thousand Chromebooks missing, and a loss of about $450,000.

“We’ve had families put in APS police reports on them just for our auditing purposes, just so that we know we can take them off of our inventory and they don’t sit there forever on our inventory,” said Harris. The district said the loss is expected considering how hastily the devices had to be distributed back in 2020.

“This is when we thought COVID could live on a surface for up to seven days. We were pretty much handing them out and so that’s been problematic in terms of getting them back,” said Scott Elder, Superintendent of APS. “At the current moment, our loss is reasonable. It’s only about 2%. That’ll probably go up and it’s probably something we could’ve expected from the way we were forced to do business that time.”

The district said pawn shops have been great partners letting them know when an APS device has been dropped off. Harris said several hundred have been found at pawn shops over the last three years. But, the devices only work with APS credentials.

“Once you leave APS, that Chromebook is worthless. You can only turn it on if you key it in through our system. If you’re not a part of our system, it’s just a block,” said Elder.

Since then, APS has tightened up its system, etching, and scanning devices. It also hired a new inventory control manager. It’s working with families to get the devices back.

“We really do look at that first time and say, ‘Oops you know, this is how you take care of your Chromebook,’ or, ‘What is a lesson learned that we can do?’ After that, we look at depreciated costs of assigning a fee,” said Harris. The fee depends on the damage done to the Chromebook.

APS has also swapped out about 22,000 Chromebooks this year that will update to the latest operating system. Harris said this will help ensure the district doesn’t become the target of hacking or another ransomware attack like earlier this year.