Converge, September 1998, p. 61

The successful launch of an ambitious plan to wire the entire Iowa City school district depended on a methodical and dedicated series of steps orchestrated by the district’s superintendent, Barbara Grohe.

The first step was to conduct a needs assessment. Grohe found a parent volunteer who put a list together of necessary equipment, costs, and timetables for implementation.

The bill came to $500,000 — but Grohe knew that before looking for funds she had to put together a sensible plan and mission for the use of technology in her district’s 24 schools.

To raise funds for the project — dubbed SchoolNet — Grohe went to her local chamber of commerce with the proposal; her plan convinced the chamber to make her district’s technology initiative a top funding priority. The chamber then solicited pledges and donations from local businesses.

Overall, Grohe recommends the following tips to anyone trying to start or manage a wiring project:

  1. Have a clear vision of the project that can be easily articulated to constituents.

  2. Take time to build support among staff, administrators, school board members, and local community and business leaders.

  3. Create a sense of excitement and anticipation in students and their parents so as many people as possible begin talking positively about the project.

  4. Solicit volunteers for every step of the program, including planning, publicity, and fundraising.

  5. Address politically sensitive aspects of your plan head-on and early in the process.

  6. Hold press conferences and generate publicity to maintain the project’s momentum.

  7. Forge partnerships with as many local businesses as possible, large and small.