How to Afford Interactive Whiteboards

3/1/2011 1:00:00 AM

While it would be challenging to find a teacher who’d turn down an interactive whiteboard, finding the funds to pay for these high-ticket items proves just as challenging. We thought it would be interesting to ask districts how they pay for their whiteboards. We hope their tales help other districts looking to increase their technology.

Hamilton Township (NJ) School District

How many IWBs do you have?

42 Epson BrightLinks. Thirtyeight are in sixth- and seventhgrade classrooms; the other four are in eighth-grade and ELL classrooms.

Total cost (including installation)

$73,910. (Each Epson BrightLink 450Wi, including wall mount, is $1,799.) The district completed the installation internally.

How did you fund them?

“We bought 38 through the Teaching and Learning with Essential New Technologies in the 21st Century Grant [TALENT 21 Grant]. It’s a federal stimulus project funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009,” says Scott Scott, technology coordinator. The district was awarded $1.43 million, which it used for BrightLinks, additional staff, and professional development.

How will you sustain this funding and/or buy more IWBs?

“We’re looking for funding and grant opportunities from a variety of sources, using some Title I funds for eighthgrade Title 1 classes, and using basic-skills money and other funds to put IWBs into additional eighth-grade and ELL classes.”

Forsyth County Schools
Cumming, GA

How many IWBs do you have?

There are almost 3,000 Promethean interactive whiteboard systems, including the ActivBoard 500. There is one in every classroom, and new schools continue to buy them.

Total cost (including installation)

“The initial 1,500 boards cost $5.4 million, which included installation and training,” says Jill Hobson, director of instructional technology. She estimates that each board costs $3,000, including installation.

How did you fund them?

The initial IWBs came from a countywide multimilliondollar bond referendum approved in spring 2005 by 88 percent of the voters. Since then, Hobson says, the district has passed more funding to help purchase whiteboards, and new building proposals have whiteboards factored into them. “We continue to have enormous community support for funding technology.”

How will you sustain this funding and/or buy more IWBs?

“We’ll continue to have a commitment to the Promethean ActivClassroom in all classrooms. As we build, we intend to put IWBs in those rooms as long as we have school-board and community support.”

Audubon Park Elementary School
Orlando, FL

How many IWBs do you have?

The school has a Promethean ActivBoard in every classroom and in special classrooms.

Total cost (including installation)

Last year the PTA spent $25,000 on technology, including IWBs, laptops, sound systems, and professional development. “We pay for the entire package,” says Heather Traynham, PTA president. “Installation is factored into our costs.”

How did you fund them?

The PTA bought two ActivBoards to show parents to encourage them to help buy enough for all classrooms. “We held golf tournaments and fund-raising campaigns and partnered with the Orlando Chili Cook-off to bring in partners and raise money for tech,” Traynham says.

How will you sustain this funding and/or buy more IWBs?

“We have a lot of support that will continue for the next few years. We plan to upgrade the software of the whiteboards, pay for more training, and buy more ActiVotes.”

Milton- Union Exempted Village Schools
West Milton, OH

How many IWBs do you have?

100 SMART Boards. They are in about 98 percent of the classrooms. “We’re building a new building, and when it’s done there will be a SMART Board in every room,” says Mick Nealeigh, technology coordinator.

Total cost (including installation)

About $120,000; each SMART Board costs $1,200. Teachers who were expert trained others and shared lesson plans they found online, Nealeigh says. “We saved money by doing the training and installation with our tech and custodial staffs.”

How did you fund them?

Some of the IWBs came out of the technology budget or from general building funds, says Scott Bloom, director of curriculum and special services. In addition, Nealeigh asked principals if they had leftover textbook or other moneys, and three principals scraped together a good chunk to go to IWBs. The district also used stimulus funding.

How will you sustain this funding and/or buy more IWBs?

Five more IWBs were included in the new building’s construction budget. There’s an occasional firmware upgrade, Nealeigh says, but SMART software updates are free, so his ongoing funding will go to replacing projectors and professional development.

San Mateo– Foster City School District
Foster City, CA

How many IWBs do you have?

Approximately 370 Luidia eBeam interactive solutions (including the eBeam slate, projector, voice amplification, and document camera) are in all K–8 traditional classrooms.

Total cost (including installation)

The district spent around $1.8 million to supply a standard set of interactive tools for each classroom, IT director Rick Edson says. Installation cost about $500 per classroom including raceway, power for the projector, installation of the projector, and all cabling.

How did you fund them?

“A voter-approved bond in 2008 provided each classroom with a standard set of technology tools,” Edson says.

How will you sustain this funding and/or buy more IWBs?

The bond funding was a onetime opportunity that provided these technologies to most classrooms.

Silver Hill Horace Mann Charter School
Haverhill, MA

How many IWBs do you have?

23 Collaborative Classroom Suites (includes the Mobi System, CPS student-response systems, and the ExamView Assessment Suite). As each classroom has one teacher’s Mobi and four Mobi Learners, there are more than 100 Mobis throughout the school.

Total cost (including installation )

The education list price for a Mobi is $399. A Student-Centered Learning Pack, containing three Mobi Learners and one Mobi and a docking station, is $899. An individual Mobi Learner costs $299.

How did you fund them?

Silver Hill Horace Mann used a combination of grants, including the Horace Mann Charter School startup grant ($525,000 for three years), an ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) stimulus grant ($135,000 for two years), and an IDEA grant ($125,000 for two years), says Euthemia Gilman, executive director. “We used these grants to purchase hardware, professional development, and installation. The technology became the foundation for curriculum.”

How will you sustain this funding and/or buy more IWBs?

The school will keep going after grants. “Race to the Top will provide the continuation of professional development by eInstruction for the life of the RTTT, which is four years. The technology is now the basis and measuring stick as the staff begins to select a new reading-science-history system to also mesh with the technology.”

Upper Darby School District
Drexel Hill, PA

How many IWBs do you have?

200 PolyVision interactive whiteboards (including the PolyVision TS, Walk and Talk, and ENO) are in various classrooms.

Total cost (including installation )

For the past three years, Upper Darby had a total tech budget of $1.2 million, of which a portion went to IWBs. The district handles installations on its own.

How did you fund them?

Upper Darby uses three methods to purchase technology: a lease-purchase program; grants, home and school contributions; and the Education & Arts Foundation. “The leasepurchase plan enables Upper Darby School District to maximize our technology-equipment budget allocation by minimizing the annual impact on the local taxpayer,” says Ed Smith, director of business management. “We finance whiteboards and other technology over a fiveyear period. Last year we financed $600,000 of equipment at an interest rate of 2.41 percent, which translates to an annual budget impact of $124,000.” The foundation obtains smaller grants that help pay for additional tech purchases.

How will you sustain this funding and/or buy more IWBs?

“We are five years into our leasing program and have $450,000 built into next year’s budget. We won’t know about other money until we get the funding estimate from the state. It’s a dire situation, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that cuts won’t be too significant.”

eInstruction’s Web site has a section on grants that includes templates and a list of federal grants that eInstruction is eligible for. Here’s a link: grants-funding.

Promethean and the National PTA have launched a fund-raising contest.

Other IWB Vendors
¦ Hitachi
¦ Mimio
¦ Numonics

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