Getting Stakeholders to Back the Edtech Budget

By Stacey Pusey

Strategic Technology Planning and Investment: Priorities, Cost and Impacts in Today’s Learning Environments edWebinar recording link


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Edtech is no longer a one-time purchase or a luxury item—it’s integrated across every system in school districts from the central office to classrooms to school buses. But for district leaders, the active support of the board and community stakeholders is just as important as the strategic tech plan and budget. In the edWebinar, “Strategic Technology Planning and Investment: Priorities, Cost and Impacts in Today’s Learning Environments,” sponsored by ClassLink and co-hosted by CoSN and AASA, three superintendents shared how they turn their stakeholders into advocates for a sustainable technology system in their districts.

  • Explain that free isn’t free. Teachers, board members and others will often look at the tech budget and suggest using a free or lower-cost option without thinking through the total cost of ownership. Show stakeholders that when investing in technology, you need to examine all costs from the impact on bandwidth to teacher training and student-home access. Help them to understand the true bottom line for technology.
  • Assume nothing about your stakeholders’ technology knowledge. When stakeholders look at the tech budget, they might not see where all the funding has gone because they don’t understand how tech is used and supported in your schools. Communicate with them all the hidden costs and how the money is used to support teaching and learning.
  • Keep bringing the conversation back to teaching and learning. Many stakeholders may still see technology as replacing teachers—or they see it just as a fun addition to the classroom. Demonstrate how technology is integrated into learning every day and the impact it has on student outcomes.
  • Don’t shortchange the teachers. Continuous professional development is key for integrating edtech, but it often gets deleted from the budget. But since the tech keeps upgrading and evolving, teachers need to receive ongoing training on how to best use the resources to support their students.
  • Have tech and business offices work together. The CFO and their team are more likely to understand the need to have the technology working, to create replacement schedules, to have training, etc. They just need to view those requirements through a student lens. Hire a CFO and support staff that are student focused who will become internal advocates for the technology budget and plan.
  • Gather qualitative and quantitative data. Of course, student outcomes matter, and schools should collect and share data that analyzes the impact of technology. But the presenters said they really value surveys, especially the comments section, where they can get more nuanced insights into how the technology is working—or not—for the students and families.

Most important, remember that your budget may not be able to cover everything. Reach out to the business community to provide your students with internships, apprenticeships, and access to technology. Remind the business that the students are headed their way eventually, and they need to help prepare students for the jobs of the future.

This edWeb broadcast was sponsored by ClassLink and co-hosted by CoSN and AASA.

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About the Presenters

Dr. Doug Brubaker has served as Superintendent of Texarkana Independent School District (TX) since January 2021. Over a career spanning 25 years, he has served in a variety of leadership roles in school districts ranging in size from 7,000 to 60,000 students. As Superintendent of Fort Smith (AR) Public Schools from 2017-2020, Dr. Brubaker launched the district’s Vision 2023 strategic planning initiative, working extensively with stakeholders to identify and prioritize the district’s greatest needs. In May 2018, in part due to broad-based support for Vision 2023 goals, FSPS passed its first millage referendum in over 30 years. The establishment of a dedicated funding stream for technology upgrades was a key accomplishment. Dr. Brubaker has CoSN CETL certification and a Ph.D. in educational computing from the University of North Texas.

Dr. M. Ann Levett was appointed Superintendent of Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools in Georgia effective June 2017. Dr. Levett began her career in Savannah as a speech and language pathologist and moved to positions in leadership including Secondary Principal, Chief Academic Officer, Deputy Superintendent, and interim Superintendent. She also served in leadership positions at Antioch University McGregor (OH), the Child Study Center at Yale University School of Medicine, and Macon State College (GA). Dr. Levett also consulted on significant reform and community development efforts in several international communities.

Dr. Levett is a published author, nationally known speaker, and consultant, named the 2020 University of Georgia College of Education Lifetime Achievement awardee, 2019 Georgia Outstanding Woman, and 2019 Georgia Department of Education’s STEM and STEAM Advocate of the Year, and received awards from numerous community and education organizations. Dr. Levett was named to the Executive Committee of AASA, the national School Superintendents Association.

Dr. Kristi Wilson has served as Superintendent of the Buckeye Elementary School District in Buckeye, Arizona for the past eight years. Prior to her Superintendency, Dr. Wilson served as an assistant superintendent, executive director, special education director, school administrator and teacher, and adjunct professor. Dr. Wilson is the President of the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), President of the National Minority Student Achievement Network (MSAN), serves on the Executive Board of Arizona’s Business and Education Coalition (ABEC), and is the Immediate Past President of the Buckeye Lion’s Club. She is a past winner of the Arizona Superintendent of the Year, Arizona PTA Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award, and VHI Save the Music National Superintendent of the Year. In her spare time, Dr. Wilson loves to read, travel and play golf with her husband. She is also writing a book about empowering women in leadership.

About the Host

Ann McMullan is Project Director for CoSN’s EmpowerED Superintendents Initiative. Ann served as Executive Director for Educational Technology in Klein ISD, near Houston, Texas until September 2013, when she and her family moved to Los Angeles, California. For 16 years Ann led the district team that provided professional development on technology and 21st century instructional strategies to 4,000 educators serving 50,000 students. She was co-chair of the Texas Education Technology Advisory Committee which developed the Texas Long Range Plan for Technology.

Today, Ann works as a public speaker, writer, and education consultant focused on leadership to meet the needs of today’s students. Ann serves on the Advisory Council for ERDI’s Alliance for Education Impact and Project Tomorrow’s Advisory Council. She is also a leadership consultant with Executive Service Corps of Southern California, serving non-profit associations. Ann is the co-author of Life Lessons in Leadership, for leaders ages eight to eighty-eight.

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Stacey Pusey is an education communications consultant and writer. She assists education organizations with content strategy and teaches writing at the college level. Stacey has worked in the preK-12 education world for 20 years, spending time on school management and working for education associations including the AAP PreK-12 Learning Group. Stacey is working with as a marketing communications advisor and writer.