Budgets at K-12 schools are not increasing year over year, and as a school administrator, you’ve likely learned to be conservative or creative with your operating funds. What about your technology spend? Technology purchases comprise a line item that ideally represents 2-3% of your overall budget – but how do you ensure you’re spending money appropriately?
Here are three ways to improve your technology budgeting to ensure you have the best return on value of your investment.
1. Asset Refresh Planning
How can you appropriately budget for years to come without a roadmap to get there? A solid technology plan includes a strategy for refreshing assets each year to keep technology current and to allow for proper budgeting. This refresh strategy supports your school’s goal of delivering the highest-quality education to their students by ensuring availability and operability of infrastructure and devices.
To maintain an asset refresh cycle free from devices with potential performance issues, best practices dictate a 20% asset refresh per year. This approach allows for more accurate budget forecasting while also avoiding spikes in IT expenditures.
Creating an accurate asset refresh plan starts with conducting a comprehensive inventory of all end-user devices and infrastructure assets. This becomes the backbone for future recommendations.
A critical step in making technology purchase decisions is the practice of piloting. A small-scale test run of viable student and teacher tools will give you solid data for making the most effective large-scale purchases.
Rather than purchasing hundreds of teacher devices that may or may not meet the requirements for teaching and learning, piloting multiple devices is recommended. In this example – purchasing new teacher devices – select a focus group of teachers who will be able to test out potential devices and provide you with feedback to make a data-driven purchasing decision.
E-Rate is a federal program through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that makes telecommunications and information services more affordable for schools and libraries. With funding via the Universal Service Fund, schools can receive discounts on qualifying technology purchases. Discount rates range depending on the poverty level for schools (from 20-90%).
Each year, schools and libraries can apply for discounts on eligible services including internet access, telecommunication services, and related equipment. Schools publish their requirements for competitive bids, select a provider, and apply for discounts.
Vartek has been helping schools achieve their technology visions for more than three decades. Let’s talk about how we can help you create a great strategic education technology plan for your school. Contact us today.