Financial Software with Budget Planning by tou16202


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									Financial Planning/farr_budget.rtf                                                Page 1
Q310-32 Fall 2001
Jennifer Farr

One thing is certain regarding budget allocation for technology—there are many
factors to consider. Schools cannot make the mistake of viewing technology as a
“one-shot” deal---purchasing the actual equipment is a mere fragment of the
budget consideration. The “Total Cost of Ownership” (TCO) -- whether schools
lease or own the technology equipment—includes all the costs related to using
and sustaining networked computers. Associated expenses include retrofitting
(the actual cost of upgrading electricity, air conditioning/heating, security
systems, and in older buildings--asbestos/lead removal), professional
development (staff training, materials, substitute costs, stipends), software,
support (personnel that can help with software and hardware problems/glitches),
replacement costs, and connectivity.

In looking over the sample technology school budget there were several
questions left unanswered. Consider the hardware section for example. How
many computers were included as part of the budget? Did the hardware budget
include peripherals? Were computers leased or purchased? Were there
computers already present in the district in addition to the hardware costs
indicated in the budget? If the budget is based on all new computers than one
can estimate one computer has been allocated for every 8 or 9 students, which is
not a bad ratio, but this figure was estimated without figuring any teachers into
the equation so the ratio of computers to students is probably much lower. Of
course all this is conjecture, because we really don’t have hardware history/data
for the district.

If we use the Integrated Technology Group estimate that the total cost of a
technology program will run above $500 per student per year for the first year
and we assume this budget is based on the first three introductory years of
technology in the district, than we can gauge that the district is falling short of that
estimate since the approximate expenditure per student is closer to $425 per
student. The $425 expenditure would indicate that the Lab Model cited in the
McKinsey & Company 1995 study would work best for this district (though one
could argue it might not be the best model for technology integration/student
use). Of course there was lot of disparity when you look at the various studies
that were used in the Taking TCO to the Classroom article too since costs per
student depended varied factors. For example the state of New Jersey
estimated a cost of $417 to $550 per student for technology and the Department
of Education in California estimated $496 per year. MIT projected a per-pupil
cost of $212 to $501 depending on the complexity of the network. This brings
the sample budget under increased scrutiny as well and raises more questions.
For example, does the budget include retrofitting and if so is that categorized as
Maintenance? What falls under the category of Miscellaneous? Does the
professional development category of the budget include the cost of a technology
specialist or would a technology specialist be included in another part of the
overall district budget (teacher contract, maybe)?
Financial Planning/farr_budget.rtf                                              Page 2
Q310-32 Fall 2001
Jennifer Farr

The sample budget did indicate some expected trends (presuming the budget
represents the first three years technology is being introduced in the budget---by
the way this doesn’t seem too likely given the years, but then we also do not
know whether this budget is in a rural district or urban district---demographics
could come into play). The TCO article made the point that the largest share of
the technology budget is normally devoted to hardware in the form of networks
and new computers and then shifts to staff development. The sample budget
showed an initially higher percentage of cost was allocated to hardware and
professional expenditure did increase in the third year of the budget.

Some other observations regarding the budget also arose. For example the cost
of A+ (training?) equaled the district funds for hardware, software, maintenance,
professional development, and miscellaneous combined. That seems unrealistic.
Two technicians could have been hired for that cost and most technicians
already have their A+ training (at least in our area). Could the A+ training have
been part of an employee incentive program? For example, if a teacher or
teachers had A+ training and agreed to stay with the district for a pre-determined
length of time the expertise would remain in the district. The school would have
the added benefit of offering A+ training to students down the road if teaching
staff had the A+ training.

Would leased equipment save the district money in maintenance costs? That
could depend on the quality of the maintenance contract. I know that when our
school leased equipment it sometimes took weeks to get the equipment repaired
which added up to a the hidden cost involved in having equipment sitting around
(student productivity was lost).

Charting the budget made the low allocations for general supplies, travel, and
software/repair painfully obvious. How on earth can a technology supply budget
function at such a low rate? Five hundred dollars for general supplies seems an
impossibly unrealistic figure, unless supplies like print cartridges, paper, etc. are
included somewhere else in the general budget. A software budget of
approximately 3% percent also seemed very low, even if the computers came
preloaded with software (did they?).

This sample budget did not appear to include retrofitting expenditures---were
those buried somewhere else in the general district budget? Perhaps they were
included in a building project (one can only hope). In our area technology
received a tremendous boost when New York State offered
refurbishing/renovation incentives – infrastructure costs, heating, air conditioning
and those types of expenses were included in the cost of the renovation projects
saving districts huge chunks of money. Technology in the schools that have
been remodeled hit an all time high…a very good thing (in my opinion).

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