Steps to budgeting your 1-to-1 program

Steps to budgeting your 1-to-1 program

Districts leaders need to prepare for costs beyond buying tablets
Students in the Orange County School District in North Carolina, above left, have sturdy laptops thanks to a blend of funding from a county sales tax and the district’s capital budget.

Prepare for all expenses

Implementing a 1-to-1 program involves more than just buying or leasing tablets or laptops, notes Terry Haas, chief financial officer of Mooresville Graded School District. District leaders also need to prepare for other costs, including setting up wired or wireless networking, and servers needed to support the additional computers and software. Technology staff also needs to be hired or expanded.

Find money through savings

Technology staff may need to be increased, but other positions, such as computer lab manager, may no longer be needed, freeing up money that can be repurposed for the program. Textbook costs may also be reduced or even eliminated, as teachers move to online or e-content. At Mooresville, for example, the district went from paying $80 per student for U.S. history textbooks to spending $35 per student per year for digital content.

Consider all funding sources

State technology funds, philanthropic organizations, bond issues, and federal grants are all possible sources of funding for 1-to-1 programs. Mooresville looked at a variety of available grant programs, including career and technical education grants or funding from the Council for Exceptional Children, when it searched for possible funding. In addition to applying for many grants, the finance officer made sure that the equipment required matched what the district used.

Think of the long run

Mooresville decided against relying on a one-time injection of funds and built the costs into the district’s budget. “If you put it in the continuation budget, you know you will always have funding available,” says Haas.

Plan for repairs

Even with the best devices, repairs are inevitable. Instead of buying a costly repair policy, Mooresville charges a $50 insurance fee for students to cover future repairs. An added benefit of the fee is that it shifts responsibility for taking care of the devices to students.