Planning for Technology Sustainability with COVID-19 Relief Funds – Digital Promise

Planning for Technology Sustainability with COVID-19 Relief Funds

Illustration showing a person standing at the edge of the "funding cliff"

June 23, 2021 | By

The COVID-19 pandemic appears to finally be waning in America. Kudos to district leaders for guiding their school districts through the ins and out of technology integration and remote learning for more than a year. School communities have learned a lot about both the amazing capabilities and the dire failures that embedded technology in the learning process can bring.

On the upside, there is now a lot of federal relief coming to school districts by way of the American Rescue Plan. For the first (and maybe last) time, there could possibly be a surplus in funding for district technology programs.

Digital Promise’s new Technology Sustainability Toolkit is designed to help school districts think intentionally about how to use these unprecedented funds to build sustainable technology plans that will prevent a tumble off the “funding cliff” in three years when money runs out. Actionable strategies and considerations include:

  • Evaluate available funding: What are your budget limits and new funding sources coming in?
  • Consider your school district’s overarching goals: Review the learning goals of your district—how will the role of technology assist in reaching those goals?
  • Identify the school district’s current reality: Assess what you already have in place—what’s working and what’s not?
  • Think about the lifecycle of technology: When will your current technology be replaced? What new additions need to be included in future planning and what current technology could be sunset?
  • Identify district technology growth plans: What are your plans for growing technology in your district? What modernizing trends should you consider?
  • Collaborate to support learning: How will you work with other departments to generate the best technology solutions for everybody?
  • Determine the total cost of ownership for your solutions: Have you considered not only the purchases, but maintenance and repair of the items you are considering purchasing? Have you considered the people-power it will take to support the technology?
  • Review potential solutions: Plan with sustainability in mind. What kinds of software, hardware, and systems can you put in place to make sure all products are supported throughout their lifecycle?
  • Share the value of investment: What will you measure to show the value of the investments your district has made? How will you report this information to key stakeholders, decision makers, and the general community?

School districts who don’t plan for sustainability will find themselves in a difficult position in a few years when the technology items they purchase now need repair or replacement. Not only will the districts have more devices and hardware to maintain, repair, or replace, they will also have less funds to do so because the relief funds will be spent and the technology department will be back to its regular general budget.

Ultimately, districts will need to develop plans that leverage current funding to realize long-term goals, like equitable access to devices and transformative instructional practices that result in significant student outcomes. Planning for sustainability requires using funds to create a runway to support work that starts now and will continue in the future.

Explore our new Technology Sustainability Toolkit to learn how to build a technology plan that will be sustainable through time, and join us for an edWebinar on July 15 at 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT to learn from district leaders and technology experts, who will share how they are approaching this unprecedented opportunity.

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