Scaling, Sustaining, and Budgeting for Education Technology Innovations
Blog post by Eileen Belastock based on this edWebinar
As highlighted in the EmpowerED Superintendent Toolkit, there are three essential focus points of smart IT decision making: total cost of ownership (TCO), student outcomes and budgeting management, and the value of the investment.
In “Leadership Strategies for Scaling, Sustaining, and Budgeting for Education Technology Innovations,” three education leaders discussed critical strategic technology planning and investments implemented in their districts to scale and sustain long-term innovation effectively.
Student outcome drives technology budgeting by determining what skills students should have when they graduate, agreed the presenters. According to Marlon Styles, Superintendent of Middletown City School District (OH), the flagship of any district is the strategic plan which reflects an investment in children. Every portion of the year is budget time, so superintendents must consistently update the school board around technology initiatives to highlight why the investments districts put into technology are essential to sustain and scale.
All three presenters agreed that budgeting for technology initiatives is an ongoing process, and the more transparent the process, the more buy-in from the school community. With the value of the investment, sometimes technology is overcomplicated. Stakeholders care about three overarching themes: the safety of staff and students, instructional practices, and fiduciary overseeing of taxpayer dollars.
There are two critical things to keep in mind with budgeting: understanding the total cost of ownership (TCO) and ensuring the teams, board, and community understand the difference between capital and operating budgets. When it comes to the total cost of ownership or the value of the investment during the budget process, Dr. Heath Morrison, Superintendent of Montgomery Independent School District (TX), highlights that over 60% of the total cost of ownership is for indirect costs.
One-time funding from capital reserves or grants has been invaluable to districts; however, it is not sustainable for the lifecycle plans of the devices. Planning for sustainability requires using funds to create a runway to support work that starts now and will continue in the future.
Styles said that to sustain innovation and investment, it is critical for districts to understand the investment value, identify the current technology reality, and plan to invest in staff and teachers.
In Superintendent Dr. Karen Cheser’s district, Durango School District 9-R (CO), district, staff capacity, and building support systems are the trickiest and most challenging components of scaling innovation. “I can certainly see the difference when you have someone at each building who can help support, coach, provide resources, and give some curated playlists. All of those things are vitally important to make sure that you’re using it for instruction in a highly effective way.”
Funding for technology initiatives is incredible and much needed, but district leaders need to be concerned about the massive investment in education. All the presenters agree that educational leaders need to be thoughtful and use the influx of funding to make a difference and close those achievement gaps for our students.
Styles said, “We must take advantage of opportunities like the Emergency Connectivity Fund so we can leverage these opportunities to address the impact on our children.” Finally, regarding educational technology innovations, Dr. Morrison said, “Build the collective will of where you’re trying to get in that journey and bring people along with you.”
Learn more about this edWeb broadcast, “Leadership Strategies for Scaling, Sustaining, and Budgeting for Education Technology Innovations,” sponsored by ClassLink and co-hosted by CoSN and AASA.
Join the Community
Super-Connected is a free professional learning community on edWeb.net for school superintendents, district leadership, and aspiring district leaders.
AASA is the premier association for school system leaders and serves as the national voice for public education and district leadership on Capitol Hill.
CoSN (the Consortium for School Networking) is the premier professional association for school system technology leaders. CoSN provides thought leadership resources, community, best practices and advocacy tools to help leaders succeed in the digital transformation. CoSN represents over 13 million students in school districts nationwide and continues to grow as a powerful and influential voice in K-12 education.
ClassLink empowers your students and teachers with instant access to their learning resources. ClassLink® LaunchPad includes a library of over 6,000 single sign-on apps and instant links to file folders at school and on Google, Office 365, Dropbox, and Box cloud drives. ClassLink Roster Server easily and securely delivers class rosters to any publisher using open technology standards. ClassLink Analytics gives decision makers the usage data they need. ClassLink is ideal for 1 to1 and BYOD initiatives.