As the chief management analyst for the Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) in Bakersfield, Calif., Michelle Plumbtree has gotten up close and personal with a number of educational technology professionals and departments—many of which were struggling to balance classroom technology and infrastructure needs against limited institutional budgets.
And she says ed tech departments should consider rethinking a few things as technology becomes a larger part of institutional budgets.
“The area of technology is expanding too quickly, and it’s becoming more and more expensive to keep up with,” says Plumbtree, whose organization was created under AB1200, a California state law enacted after the bankruptcy of a few California districts. And while Plumbtree says that many districts and institutions are “getting there” on the technology front, the financial aspect of that charge tends to trip up even the most financially savvy institution.
Budgeting for the future, for example, is a particularly onerous task for ed tech departments that have to not only address current needs, but also future requirements. “If [IT] doesn’t have solid systems and networks in place now, they’re going to be in trouble down the line,” says Plumbtree, “both in terms of the technology itself and the related funding.”
To institutions looking to get out in front of that challenge and make good financial decisions now, Plumbtree offers these five often-overlooked strategies:
(Next page: More ed-tech money tips: Why leasing makes more sense than you think)