Affording 1:1

from Technology & Learning

Knowing your district's technology needs and creating workable solutions are key to a successful 1:1 plan.

Some schools, districts, and states are tackling the cost of hardware and network products by using E-rate money, which is tied to the number of students eligible for the school-lunch program, requires attention to several forms and deadlines, and makes filtering mandatory. Forming consortia with other districts to allow bulk purchasing is another route to cost cutting. And leasing equipment can also be a good option—requiring fewer dollars up front and a lower yearly cost spread out over many years.

Many large-scale initiatives are in the position of having to request funding every few years, which can be a real nail-biter. The sooner you can fold all your laptop or tablet funding into yearly capital expenditures the better. Michigan, Maine, and West Virginia have all been in the position of renegotiating funding after their initial outlays, and so far all three have successfully continued their programs.

Maintenance Hardware and Software Spending

Schools report that the cost of maintaining hardware and software will grow from $13.04 per student in 2006 to $19.42 per student by 2011. Growth will be at a uniformly moderate rate of 8.7 percent.

If hardware and software sales grow more rapidly to support 1:1 initiatives, the maintenance costs will be critical when evaluating total cost of ownership.
—America's Digital Schools 2006

Evaluate your infrastructure.

Even if you have a computer network in place, you need to consider the load of adding roaming computers to the picture. To assess this cost, you must consider the building, the hardware, the type of network, the number of computers, and your particular wireless plan. Make a plan for where to install your wireless access points, how to set them up, and where to run more cables. If you already have a network, your cost will involve more access points for wireless capability. Where to place these access points depends on the distance between access points and how many computers will connect to each. Also, think about electricity and how students will keep their devices charged. Some schools set up charging areas around their buildings or hand out spare batteries or power adapters.

Consider TCO.

This means not just the cost of hardware, which is sizable, but the requirement for computer support staff and technology coordinators, professional development, electricity, cabling and infrastructure, printer cartridges, and even paper. And sustainability should be part of the discussion. Replacing laptops or tablets every three or four years, continuing professional development, salary increases for support staff and coordinators, replacing network components, maintenance contracts for hardware, and other products all need to be projected year after year.

Pamela Livingston is the author of 1-to-1 Learning: Laptop or Tablet Programs that Work.

This is an excerpt from "The One-to-One Tsunami," which originally appeared in T&L's April 2007 issue.

Funding 1:1: Best Practices

How two districts are making 1:1 a reality.

By Tom McHale


Profile: Alaska's Denali Borough School District covers more than 12,000 square miles (roughly the size of Maryland) and serves about 300 students in its three buildings.

Funding Model: Program money comes from a variety of local, state, and federal funds. Alaska doesn't have property taxes, but tax funds generated by the summer tourism industry contribute to the district budget. In the summer of 2004 the Association of Alaska School Boards asked the state to fund a laptop initiative. The legislature approved $5 million in state funds, and the AASB is seeking matching federal funds through Alaska's congressional delegation. It formed the Consortium for Digital Learning, and 18 districts (including Denali) were awarded funds for a new or existing program.

In addition, each family is required to pay an annual fee of $65 to defray the costs of repairs to the machines and access to the wireless Internet network. Due to the lack of infrastructure, Internet service is expensive in Alaska. Two T1 lines and the circuits to connect the three school buildings run Denali $10,000 a month.

Through these funds and federal entitlement money, along with a lease plan through Apple Financial Services, Denali is able to maintain one of the few truly sustainable, comprehensive laptop programs in the country. The district buys new laptops every year for 6th-grade students or students new to the district. Because the lease purchase program lasts four years, graduating students are given the option of buying their laptop for $1.


Profile: The Fresno-area Clovis Unified School District covers approximately 198 square miles and has a student population approaching 38,000.

Funding Model: Because parents pay for the laptops, required funding is greatly reduced. Chuck Philips, the district's chief information officer, believes this is what makes Clovis's one-to-one program sustainable. "It has to be a partnership discussion. Replacing laptops or tablets every three or four years, continuing professional development, salary increases for support staff and coordinators, replacing network components, maintenance contracts for hardware, and other in some kind of percentage with your parent community," he says.

In Clovis, all certified staff are provided with a laptop or desktop computer, and a wireless infrastructure has been put in place. Staff laptops are replaced every three years, with older ones going into the loaner pool. Because Clovis is an average socio-economic district (about 40 percent of the students are eligible for the National School Lunch Program), it is not eligible for many grant programs. State funding per student, based on daily attendance, is about average as well, and well below other districts in the Fresno area. The state funds were supplemented with grants, and money invested from the non-profit Clovis Unified Foundation. Funds were also provided through local taxpayer support. Philips credits the business service and budgeting teams with making sure dollars are spent wisely, and points to the established partnerships with vendors like Lenovo, Microsoft, and Adobe that allow them to get the best value for the tools they need. At times these vendors have provided new applications and hardware for little or no cost.

—Exerpted from the March and May 2007 issues of Technology & Learning.