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Information Technology | News

Report: School IT Budgets Increasing But Still Inadequate

IT budgets have increased in one-third of school districts over the past year, but nearly half of districts still don't have enough funding to support existing IT equipment or implement new technologies, according to a new report from the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN).

The second annual CoSN K-12 IT Leadership Survey, conducted in partnership with MDR and sponsored by SchoolDude, surveyed 350 respondents from 45 states with questions about IT priorities, budgets, staffing, district technology C-level characteristics and K-12 IT leadership. According to information from CoSN, the survey was designed to "measure how school system technology leaders are leveraging technology to achieve engaging learning environments, how this changes over time and how the choices made today will shape the future landscape."

The survey found that 68 percent of districts plan to delay replacement of aging technology or to defer maintenance upgrades and contracts as a way of managing budget shortfalls, a decision that CoSN indicated it considers costly and inefficient for students and staff.

"While the feedback from district leaders offers optimism, it's overwhelmingly apparent: Districts still lack the necessary resources to provide transformative learning environments," said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN, in a prepared statement.

Inadequate IT budgets may be affecting readiness for online assessments set to begin this fall, with less than 18 percent of districts reporting that they are fully prepared for the online assessments.

The survey also found that IT initiatives are a high priority for districts, with 81 percent of responding districts either already supporting or interested in implementing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiatives and 83 percent predicting that digital learning materials will account for more than 50 percent of district educational resources over the next three years.

Survey findings related to staffing and leadership include:

  • Seventy-two percent of respondents reported that staffing levels were the same or smaller than last year, even when the number of IT assets had increased;
  • Fifty-nine percent reported lack of staff to implement new classroom technology; and
  • Twenty percent of CTOs plan to retire in the next five years and half plan to retire in the next 10 years.

"For another year, the findings confirm that our technology leaders do not have enough budget or staff to integrate technology into classroom instruction or implement new technologies — factors which have been identified as critical for student success," said Nick Mirisis, director of marketing and business development for SchoolDude, in a prepared statement.

The executive summary of the second annual CoSN K-12 IT Leadership Survey is available as a free download from CoSN's site. The full report will be released the week of April 1.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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