This article is published under our technology and education series. Technology has disrupted multiple facets of our education system and continues to shape the classroom experience. We explore how technology continues to transform education through dynamic, interactive, and blended learning processes. This article explores contemporary challenges associated with education, technology, and digital learning.
We understand the pressures schools face as they balance the need for new technology equipment with budget constraints. As STEM centric curriculums continue to dominate national education policy discussions, districts are recognizing the importance of investing in a multitude of devices, including laptops, 3D printers, and interactive boards. Maximizing state, federal, and private grants can provide districts with an alternative funding source which is not reliant on local property taxes. Beyond the funds raised through the local tax levy and state aid, a variety of the external funding sources are available, including:
Title I: Among the most flexible of the “Titles,” Title I funds are used to enhance classroom instruction. Title I can be used to purchase instructional supplies including computer equipment, tablets, and projectors for classrooms.
Title II: Supports the recruitment and retention of Highly Qualified Teachers and Administrators. Title II is an excellent funding source for technology related professional development.
Title III: Supports the education requirements of Limited English Proficient Students (LEP). Funds could be used to purchase technology for the exclusive use of ELL students and teachers.
Title IV Part A: Newly enacted section of ESSA which supports the educational technology needs of school districts including infrastructure expenses.
IDEA: Funding for programs and instructional supplies for special education students including the procurement of assistive technology.
e-Rate: The Universal Service Fund supports broadband internet access and telecommunications services for school districts. Discounts, up to 90%, are available however, the District must be in compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) to be eligible for funding. Discounts are divided into two tiers:
Tier I: Provides discounts for external telecommunication data services including broadband internet and telephone.
Tier II: Provides discounts for equipment and maintenance of internal telecommunications connections (e.g. Local Area Network).
State (New Jersey)
PARCC Readiness Aid: Currently fixed at $10 per student, PARCC Readiness Aid could be used to support technology infrastructure upgrades.
Numerous corporations, community groups, and non-profit organizations provide grants ranging from a few hundred dollars to over $100,000. A recent trend has been an increase in grants supporting STEAM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) initiatives. The majority of private grants seek to fund innovative and engaging programs.
When submitting applications to private grants, we recommend school districts create a “Press Kit” (informational brochure showcasing the district) to submit to Non-Profit Organizations and Community Groups in conjunction with grant applications. The Kit should highlight innovative classroom projects, district demographics, and long term goals through photos and graphics.
The School Funding Dilemma
As highlighted in a 2016 NPR report, school districts face an immense funding challenge in an era of restrained funding. Although budgets are dwindling the need for highly specialized and expensive technology equipment is skyrocketing as curriculums increasingly focus on digital centric career skills.
Matthew Zuccaro is currently the CEO of Digital Strategy Associates LLC, where he developed a boutique web design firm into a multi-faceted provider of IT and digital marketing solutions. A highly driven entrepreneur, Matt founded his first business while in high school and used the proceeds to self-finance his college tuition. As a seasoned IT professional, Matt has extensive experience in supporting Apple, Cisco, and Windows. A graduate of Montclair State University, Matt holds a BA (Summa Cum Laude) in History and Political Science. Outside of the office, Matt is passionate about traveling as well as volunteering within his local community.
At Digital Strategy Associates LLC, our mission is simple: to simplify IT so our clients can focus on what they do best. Digital Strategy Associates (DSA) is a multi-discipline information technology and digital marketing agency headquartered in Morristown, New Jersey. DSA provides a comprehensive suite of creative and technical solutions including web design, web hosting, graphic design, managed IT services, consulting, and training. For more information, visit digitalstrategyllc.com.
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