August 25, 2017
Modern education requires exposure to tablets, computers, and other technology in order to prepare students to function in the business world. Yet, this technology does not come cheap. IT budgets are notoriously tight, and in a K-12 setting, the story is much the same. Schools must keep the technology resources operational and up to date as the industry progresses, and to do that, they must find a way to finance their technology investment needs. There are dozens of ways to approach the challenge of school IT budgeting and financing, but here are just four strategies to consider as the school year kicks off.
Technology Financing Methods for Schools
Though E-Rate will not generate money directly for the budget, it can be used to acquire significant discounts in the form of subsidies on select technology purchases. Depending on the location of the school and economic factors in the surrounding community, each school has access to a certain amount of E-Rate dollars for the year. If used wisely, it can give significant savings for networking projects.
There are two types of bonds available to schools: long-term bonds and serial bonds. Long-term bonds provide a substantial amount of initial capital with regular payments on the interest and a large payment on the principal when the bond matures. For example, a $40 million 20 year bond will give the school twenty years to repay the capital. These bonds are excellent ways to finance long-lasting infrastructure investments like a new sports field or a new school facility. For technology investments, however, twenty years is too long a timeframe. It will outlast any equipment added to the data center. Instead, these long-term bonds are better suited to financing things like IT employee training and continuing education.
When repaying a serial bond, the principal and interest are paid off simultaneously, and the timeframes of these bonds tend to be much shorter and much more negotiable. One could feasibly use these bonds to finance immediate technology needs without pushing the bill twenty years down the road onto a new generation.
After the initial capital investment for computers, data center hardware, laptop carts, and/or tablets, this collection of equipment must be maintained. Treat this equipment in the same way the school maintains their fleet of school buses. Instead of replacing the entire fleet all at once every ten years, the school decommissions and replaces a certain percentage of the fleet every year. These minor upgrades will be much easier to work into the budget.
Finding the Right Technology
Not all technology investments are made equal. A school has distinct needs that differ from an enterprise or small business, even if the relative size of the users remains the same. By investing in cloud technologies, for example, the school can reduce their need for on-premise infrastructure. Building upon that, an investment into a virtual desktop infrastructure can enable some bring-your-own-device capabilities that can save the school from some large capital investments in the first place. Browse our technology solutions to learn about the cutting-edge of technology today.
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