We were all set to get a used desktop for our school-aged children until I found out about our school district's digital learning agenda and went to a few meetings. Like a lot of schools, our district is now completely transitioning to all Google products: Chromebooks, Docs, Drive, apps and even the Chrome browser (Parents and students are not able to access district resources online using the Safari browser). Teachers who use Google say they can monitor technology class lessons in real time and it streamlines assignments, grading, communication and lessons. This is huge. Sometimes teachers have not been known to be the earliest adaptors of technology which makes sense because they have to learn a new system every couple of years or so). Kids can write homework documents at home and if the family printer isn't working or if they don't have one, they can print at school. It gives a lot of students greater access to school technology resources. It saves teachers time in the classroom and in checking homework and grading.
While some may object to the idea of this education technology is just a way to capture future Google customers, it does seem to be working exceedingly well, is affordable and is easily updated. School districts and technology contracts follow a pattern that is not unlike many high school relationships (crush, huge expectations, cute phrase, drama relating to outside problems, fighting, breaking up, phasing out), but dare I suggest that Google may actually be the one? ("You guys, OMG, they are SOOO cute together!")
Before you buy anything, check with the school or district personnel and see what they are using and plan to use in the future. Ask for recommendations for a purchase. Check to see if they have any student discounts, or if they are selling any of their used equipment for a steep discount.