Between shrinking budgets and increasingly IT-dependent school systems, budgeting for the cost of technology in education can be tough. We’ve collected 6 best practices in school budgeting to help you get the most out of your 2020 tech funds.
The cost of new edtech involves more than just hardware—it should include the price of operation and support as well. Before adding an item to your budget, make sure you’ll have the funds to deploy and maintain your new investment (be sure to factor in recurring costs like software licenses or data for LTE-embedded devices.)
Standardize Tech Purchases & Consolidate Vendors
Education might be increasingly personalized, but there are some major advantages to homogenizing tech purchases. As the Ed Advocate points out:
“Standardizing the type (Windows or Apple? Tablet or network?) of technology you use can increase cost savings through bulk purchasing options, streamlining repair, and making training simple and uniform.”
If that wasn’t incentive enough, purchasing multiple products from a single vendor can save you time by consolidating your points-of-contact. Fewer sales calls is always a good thing, right?
If Someone Requests New Tech, Ask “Who will be using it? And why?”
Stopping to ask these two critical questions can save everyone involved in tech usage, purchasing and maintenance both time and money.
Why? For two major reasons:
- Tech might not be the best solution (from a budgetary or functionality standpoint). New tech may be tempting, but it isn’t the best option for every situation. If a teacher wants to give students an up-close look at undersea life, a field trip to an aquarium might do the job more cheaply and effectively than a classroom rigged with 30 VR headsets. The annual license for a document-digitizing solution might be more costly than several hours of a secretary’s time.
- A different piece of tech might be equally (or more!) effective. Not every tech-powered initiative needs to be ‘harder, better, faster, stronger,’ so asking the right questions can prevent overbuying (i.e. going for a high powered PC for a creative writing program when a simple Chromebook will do).
Plenty of tech departments are eager to please, but pumping the breaks long enough to ensure that budgets are going toward the right tool for the job will make everyone happier in the long run.
Stop Paying for Unused Software
According to a recent study, an average of 67% of all software licenses in the K-12 space goes unused. The cost of all this waste over a single school year: an estimated $5.6 billion across all the schools in the U.S.
Considering that fact, a tool that allows you to identify unused and underused educational software can easily pay for itself and then some. Software like CatchOn, a new solution offered by Kajeet, gathers software usage data (among other things) and can help you easily identify which licenses you can discontinue or invest in more.
Nostalgia aside, VHS players, overhead projectors, and other old equipment have outlived their usefulness. Rather than keeping these dinosaurs on life support, pull the plug and save money on repair and maintenance.
Bare Your Budget
Having a transparent, zero-based budget can help the tech department and other stakeholders ensure that funds are optimally spent. By itemizing each expense and carefully reviewing how it directly or indirectly benefits students, you can ensure funding lands where it is most needed.
A detailed budget also makes it easier to review the effectiveness of each program when budgeting season rolls around again. If a line item didn’t accomplish a specific task, it’s an easy cut.
Do you have a good budgeting tip that we missed? Help your fellow IT folks out and share your strategy below!