While you might never feel there’s enough money in your school district’s budget to do everything you want to for students and faculty, the truth is that a re-evaluation of your current programs will reveal that funds could be allocated more intelligently. The key, says the author, is to change your attitude from wondering whether your district has enough money to focusing on the question, “How can we use the money we have to accomplish our goals?”
Rethinking your budget is critical in all areas of school operation, but particularly in the use of instructional technology. Here are some tips for how to take a new, realistic look at budgeting for three key areas of technology:
• Hardware/software. By relying on one-time grants for equipment, schools get stuck with technology that’s outdated in a few years’ time. Budgeting for the maintenance and upgrade of equipment must be part of your long-term planning cycle, not the one-year plan. Leasing computers might even make sense, for it forces a realization that there are annual costs associated with using computers and the internet.
• Repair/maintenance. The challenge here is that repairs are hard to predict, and a school district can’t afford to have computer technicians on staff who are not kept busy. Many companies now outsource their technology repairs, and this is a worthwhile option for schools to consider. Also, compare the service warranties offered by many companies for guaranteeing repairs at a relatively low cost.
• Staffing. Hiring people to support teachers’ efforts to use computers is critical. However, since teachers have so many different needs (and skill levels) even within a single school building, it’s often hard to find a person who can meet widely varied demands. One option is to hire a series of consultants with expertise in specific areas who can supplement the knowledge of the full-time, in-house expert.