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.