Budgeting› (District Spending 3 yrs)

Shannan Muskopf

The article entitled žTotal Cost of OwnershipÓ warns that many schools devote a large percentage of their technology budgets to buying hardware (computers and accessories) and fail to take into account the ongoing costs of maintaining and upgrading these components.› Many schools will not place as much emphasis on maintenance because unlike a business, school computers that fail do not place a perceived burden on the operation of the school.› In reality, failing computers and accessories do place a burden on the school system in that it reflects a wastefulness in the buying of computers that sit idle and unworkable, and whose educational value is lost.› Though it may be nice to have classrooms full of computers, if they cannot be used due to maintenance issues or teacher training, the money spent on them is wasted. The Total Cost of Ownership provides a base for understanding that more computers and more hardware may not be the best solution if the school cannot budget to maintain the equipment they acquire.›

After analyzing the District Spending document, some of the concerns raised by the authors of the žTotal Cost of OwnershipÓ are apparent in the money spent in the areas of maintenance and professional development.

The following chart summarizes the percentages of the schoolŪs technology budget:

Summary of Expenditures from 1997-2000 (Percent of Total Budget)

 

1997-1998

1998-1999

1999-2000

       

Hardware *

62%

55.5%

53%

Software

3%

5.5%

2%

Maintenance

11%

13%

16%

Professional Development

22%

24%

28%

Miscellaneous

2%

1%

1%

*No separate distinction was made to address connectivity issues, I assumed that connectivity and network costs were included in the schoolŪs hardware budget.››

Overview of District Spending

The largest portion of the technology budge went into hardware, over the three year period the amount spent on hardware remained decreased only slightly.› Software budget remained the lowest budgetary component throughout the three year period.› Professional development remained about the same, only increasing slightly over time.› Maintenance costs also increased only a small amount over the three year period.

Analysis

After initial costs of hardware, the schoolŪs hardware budget should go down, though it did slightly over the three years, the large chunk of the districtŪs spending is still going into hardware acquisition.›› If more and more computers and technology is added, the district may have budget problems later on to upkeep these computers.› Maintenance percentages did increase over the three years, but only to a small degree, and certainly one could project that future years will require much more money to support the percentage of hardware acquisitions evidenced by the amount of money allocated to that area.

Problems may arise in subsequent years with the maintaining of all the computers that the district has bought in previous years, adding more and more computers will mean that the district will need to increase the costs for maintaining and upgrading those computers.› The 16 percent the school spent in the 1999-2000 school year may not be enough to cover the costs in later years.› Based on the classroom model proposed in› žThe Total Cost of OwnershipÓ, hardware and connectivity budget should decrease dramatically over the years.› Figures show that 72 %, which includes connectivity costs and systems, devoted to the initial cost versus 38 % projected as ongoing costs.› (appendix A).› The districtŪs three year budget overview does not show any decrease in the hardware costs.

Professional development seems to remain about the same over the three year period, though TCO suggests that costs of professional development should increase over time.› Ongoing costs reflect the need to train teachers to use the technology the district has acquired.

Software budgeting is low on the district spending chart, so it would seem that while the school may have a good deal of computers, the low budgeting of software suggests that these computers may not be running many educational programs, or it can be speculated that the computers will only be used as internet research devices, requiring little or no software acquisitions.› Either way, shows that the district has not investigated or invested in educational tools.

The first change I would make to the district spending would be to reduce the amount of money devoted to acquiring new hardware, since it is evident that the school will eventually run into budgeting issues with the maintaining and upgrading the computers they already have.› They will also need to devote more money to training teachers to use these computers and acquiring educational software that will address learning goals.› The computers are nice to have and pretty to look at, but without the training and programs, they will not improve student learning or have a measurable effect on achievement.

The Total Cost of Learning suggests that after initial costs of acquiring hardware, that budget should be reduced and money then applied to maintaining the software.› This is not evidenced in the districtŪs budget; the same amount of money is being spent year after year on hardware.›› Software costs may not need to go up over the long term, but this district hasnŪt spent much on software at all and may need to consider shifting some of the hardware budget into a software budget.› The professional development budget seems to fall within the TCO guidelines, and has increased over the three-year period.› The district should plan for this budget to increase in subsequent years, presumably so that teachers can keep up with developing technology.›