By taking advantage of grants and partnerships, Mitchell said, his district is able to offer a 21st-century education to students, high-quality professional development for staff members, and opportunities that otherwise would not be available as a result of budget constraints.

4. Virtualize computing.

Desktop and server virtualization has saved many districts thousands of dollars in hardware and software costs. For example, desktop virtualization allows schools to buy inexpensive “dummy” terminals or leverage older machines with less processing power, by presenting an interface for applications that actually are running on a central server—with only the screen shots and keystrokes moving between the desktop and the server.

Jim Gerlach, technology coordinator for Bishop McGuiness Catholic High School in Charlotte, N.C., says his school has saved a “fortune in the last four years using Xtenda virtualized workstations from NComputing.”

According to Gerlach, NComputing’s workstations cost about $75 per station (plus the cost of a monitor, keyboard, and mouse), use little power, and extend computing as needed for “a fraction of the cost of a full computer.”

“We have been able to have 275 workstations for the cost of 125 computers—each with its own discreet login, network storage, access to software, and internet access and filtering,” he said.

The Hudson Falls Central School District in New York took virtualization one step further, implementing a district-wide strategy of desktop virtualization that has changed the way the district handles instruction, said Greg Partch, director of education technology.

“We began the effort in 2000 by deploying 50 thin-client devices and now have in excess of 1,800 virtualized desktops,” he said. “The solution involves the use of HP Proliant C7000 blade servers running Windows 2003, along with Windows Terminal Server and Citrix MetaFrame 4.5 coupled together to make up our Presentation/Terminal Server environment. The conductor of this orchestra is an ‘Application Portal Delivery System’ from ClassLink Technologies, called ClassLink Launchpad.”

Launchpad, an OS-like system, packages and delivers a customized Windows XP desktop for almost any application that runs in a Windows environment. The desktop can be theme-based, presenting only the appropriate applications based on the user’s needs.