June 25, 2024

How School Boards See and Assess Input on Classroom Technology

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When Prince William County Public Schools in Virginia needed to replace its 20-year-old core network three years ago, IT Services Director AJ Phillips had to convince school board members to support purchasing a new network infrastructure.

The school board didn’t understand why the district’s network performed poorly, so Phillips had to get creative in her explanation. At a school board meeting, she showed them — using PVC pipes — how the network was no longer able to support the district’s 90 schools and 58,000 devices and connections.

“It was a visual that totally made sense to them,” Phillips told EdTech. She got funding approval two months after her presentation.

When it comes to implementing new technology initiatives, gaining support from school boards, as Phillips did, is key. Ultimately, school boards make decisions on how to best allocate funds to meet students’ needs and enhance learning. They also keep track of the progress and outcomes of these investments, ensuring that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.

But balancing budget management with requested technologies, desired student outcomes and curricular demands can be challenging. School boards need to make sure spending supports district priorities and learning objectives, rather than the coolest device or the latest tech trend — and often, board members know very little about the technologies presented to them. Many don’t have the background or expertise to understand how technology works, hindering their ability to make smart decisions about tech initiatives and see how they tie into the curriculum.

Therefore, to get school boards to approve tech purchasing plans with confidence, IT leaders must understand how board members view technology as a whole, as their perspective likely differs from that of educators on the ground.