Stop Being a Victim of Federal Funding Cuts!

Stop Being a Victim of Federal Funding Cuts!

As the new school year starts, many technologists and curriculum directors are waiting with bated breath to see if and how much of E2T2 (Enhancing Education Through Technology) federal funding will be restored by Congress. Many districts rely solely on this program for technology professional development, as well as for purchase of hardware and software. (E-Rate programs, the $2.25 billion federal funding source for telecom and infrastructure, has also been under attack but seems safe for the immediate future.)

The Bad News

E2T2 funding was cut from $496 million to $272 million (a 45 percent cut) in 2006 and eliminated in the president’s budget for 2007. And according to the State Education Technology Directors Association (SETDA), we know that 14 states have only E2T2 funding to support their technology efforts. On a personal note, I was shocked when the Colorado Department of Education essentially gutted its technology program, retaining only one person to handle E-Rate. Additionally, we know from a recent study by The Hayes Connection and The Greaves Group, America’s Digital Schools 2006: A Five Year Forecast, that many districts rely more heavily on federal funding for technology than for all programs (14 percent versus 8 percent).

The Good News

State coffers are bulging. The surpluses expected for states this year exceed $26 billion, and 84 percent of states are either in balance or have a surplus for 2006—a nice increase from 2005 when only 70 percent of states reported this. Your state associations also can make a case for special statewide grants for technology in light of the loss of E2T2.

You have important support for technology in the schools:

  • Superintendents support technology in schools: Out of 172 superintendents who completed America’s Digital Schools 2006, only four superintendents disagreed with the following statement:

“Ubiquitous technology can reduce the time, distance, and cost of delivering information directly to students. Teachers can spend substantially more one-on-one time with each student and can personalize the education experience to each student’s needs.”

  • School boards support technology in schools: 96 percent of superintendents agreed that their school board supported major technology initiatives with 40 percent strongly agreeing.

There are many competitive award-funding sources in addition to federal funds.

  • Consider grants specific to your state. Many sources of funds, beyond your state department of education, are available for educational technology programs. Some include: colleges and university grants; private foundation grants; governors’ grants; and grants from departments of commerce, agriculture, and other governmental agencies.
  • Ask the supplier of the product or service you want to buy for help. Many of them subscribe to services, such as School Funding Services, which can provide up-to-the-minute information on such tricky proposals as state-specific grants and Microsoft settlement funds.
  • Outsource your grant writing—don’t let lack of staff time stop you. A former superintendent friend in a small suburban district told me she hired grant writers whenever she felt they had a good chance to win on a competitive grant. Outsourcing freelance grant writers is a common, often overlooked, solution.

If you believe that your program deserves funding, then only your own energy and initiative can stop you from finding new funding sources. You may find it slow and time-consuming, but you can find the money if you use all your resources

Online Resources:

Jeanne Hayes is president of The Hayes Connection, an education market research and database firm in Littleton, CO, and founder of Quality Education Data Inc., a Scholastic company. She also assists RedRock Reports, a funding consulting service, in making known their consulting services regarding funding opportunities.

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