More Money-Saving Tips
Here are some other creative solutions from education leaders and school groups:
Buy in bulk. The Oregon Educational Technology Consortium (OETC) coordinates bulk purchasing for Oregon educators. Despite its name, OETC is open to all western states and even has members as far away as New Jersey. The consortium negotiates volume pricing and distribution arrangements that meet the needs of both large and small member organizationsschools can buy as little as a single CD from the group. Schools rely on the OETC for quality assurance and low-cost certainty for technology purchasing. The organization is also a leader in educational technology professional development. (www.oetc.org)
Outsource maintenance people. The Richardson (TX) Independent School reduced its staff from 25 full-time tech maintenance people to 15 by contracting with Compaq/HP for tech support. Detroit Public Schools has a contract with Compuware to manage the district's entire IT staff.
Ask parents for tech donations. "We are partnering with individual parents and the business community in a program called Laptops for Learning, which supplies donated laptops to fourth and fifth graders. The program has made a significant difference in student attendance and in their excitement about learning," says Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools superintendent James L. Pughsley. Meanwhile, at the Calvin Christian School in Blaine, Minnesota, parents volunteer, or are paid a nominal fee, to maintain all of the small school's Windows computers.
Tap peers for tech bargains and tips. Jack Shields, principal of Calvin Christian School, finds it helpful to keep in touch with other principals and technology coordinators. Five years ago, a friend let Shields know that the University of Minnesota was upgrading to 100baseT Ethernet, and he got the college to donate their eight perfectly good 10baseT hubs to his school.
Standardize, standardize, standardize. Aside from the importance of interoperability when managing multiple sites and programs, there is a very real time savings when techs only have to learn one system. In addition, there are more opportunities to buy in bulk and to get good deals if going with one vendor.
Ask vendors to pre-install software. Anything you can get the vendor to do on his or her time saves precious time on your end. Besides, there are fewer chances of things being installed incorrectly if the guys who made it are doing the set-up.
Set up a nonprofit education fund in your community. The Washington,
D.C.-based Public Education Network (PEN), a national association of local
education funds (LEFs), says there's been a huge bump in the number of LEFs,
which supply schools with needed money, equipment, and services donated by
parents, businesses, and the community. PEN estimates that there are 2,500
to 3,000 LEFs nationwide, serving about 15 percent of schools. For example,
the Evergreen School local education fund in Washington state raised more
than $400,000 to pay for updating computer labs, graphing calculators for
middle school students, and high-tech equipment and software for the school's