Where are you finding the funds to build
and sustain your programs? What new ways
have you found to cut costs with help from
technology? How are you getting the word out about the
things that are working in your schools and the importance
of technology in your efforts? These were the questions that
formed the foundation of the discussion in the “Budgeting and
Community Support” work group at the SchoolCIO Leadership
Summit. Below are highlights from these conversations.
Get Support from the Local Community
The majority of the attending districts in this group receive their funds from local money, with a smaller
percentage funded by grants, e-rate, and Title I funds. This drove the conversation toward the importance
of building community support and improving “messaging” about the great things schools are doing that
deserve local support through bond and tax initiatives. Here are some highlights:
* Only twenty-eight percent of households have kids in the system, which makes it more difficult
to get buy-in. We take the time to craft quality press releases and find that the local papers are
willing partners who will publish most of what we send them. Sharing the feel-good stories with the
community goes a long way toward building financial support for our technology initiatives.
— Andrew Wallace, director of technology, South Portland Maine Schools
* We just passed the biggest bond ever—without a superintendent. Our district did presentations
throughout the community to various parent groups, municipality board meetings, community-based
groups, etc. that provided information to voters and answered their questions about the bond program
recommended by our bond advisory committee.
—Sean Casey, assistant superintendent, technology, Lake Travis ISD Austin, TX
Naturally we communicate via our
webpage. We also leverage parent
email from our SIS and have replaced
most paper newsletters with this
medium. Our SIS portal is heavily used
and the need for paper report cards
is diminishing each ranking period.
Annually, we publish a centerfold
insert in a local paper highlighting each
department and school. Typically,
we focus less on technology as a cost
center or department and more on how
technology is embedded in all we do.
We have implemented several major
initiatives focused on communication,
including implementation of a mass
communication system that integrates
phones, email, SMS, and social media
support. We also recently developed a
full-featured mobile app called Judson
ISD Connect!, which allows parents,
students, and the community to have upto-
date information about our schools.
— Steve Young, chief technology officer,
Judson ISD, San Antonio, TX
‘‘Remember to meet parents where they are—through social media, text, and
emails. Be careful to avoid message fatigue.
—Liz Fadil, Vice President of Sales, School Messenger
is a substitute
This has allowed
us to save some
funds. We also
an infant LMS
that can grow
the new system
for the first time
from outside the
Jr., director of
Q How has technology
helped cut costs?
The following are areas in which automation technologies are
allowing our districts to realize savings: automation in the areas
of identity management, print and copy center operations,
programmable systems for energy management, and
virtualization. An overall strategy that we have employed also
is to move away from proprietary systems as much as possible
to embrace those which are more integrated (e.g., moving to
VOIP and supporting it in-house as another network service),
universal (e.g., creating a learning portal of all of our online
textbooks and other electronic resources from our textbook
adoptions and subscriptions), and flexible (e.g., encouraging
BYOD by allowing any staff member or student to use their
We are providing far more services and supporting more
technology than we did five years ago on the same budget.
We have implemented a lot of the standard best practices:
virtualized most servers, cut phone lines, virtualized many
desktops, implemented auto shutdown for computers,
and managed contracts. We have also tried some different
approaches, such as buying long-warranty used computers,
automating identity management, and implementing a large
electronic forms project.
Questions for our
• How have you “prioritized”
the funding of technology?
• What has your district done
to leverage other funding
sources such as Title I and
• How do you answer the
question, “How is all this
technology improving test
• How do you fund professional
• How do you use technology
to deliver education in
creative ways outside the
• How do you fund technology
Evaluate the Alternatives
The budget work group also talked about considering breaking away
from traditional funding streams and exploring alternate sources of
revenue, such as corporate partnerships. Here are some highlights:
Local initiatives should not be the only revenue stream. This is an
outdated model. Any funding streams we have should be more flexible.
Some of our communities are locked out. We only won the last override
by a slim margin. We work with companies in the area who want
information about education. People don’t always get the connection
between investing in education and economic prosperity and the evidence
shows that individuals often locate to specific areas because of schools.
— David Schauer, superintendent, Kyrene School District, Tempe, AZ
I think we need to look creatively to grant resources, funding
partnerships, more cooperation between districts and other agencies.
We need to remember IT resources are part of the core of our mission
and can’t be looked at as an area to reduce any more than classroom
— Steve Baule, superintendent, North Boone CUSD 200, Poplar Grove, IL
We have gotten very creative with how we budget for things. Many things
we used to spend money on (i.e., textbooks) we no longer do. We use all
available funds to help with technology and our digital conversion.
—Scott Smith, Chief Technology Officer, Mooresville Graded School
District, Mooresville, NC