eTechPlanner Technology Plan Process Overview Index http://www.etechplanner.org/overview/overview.asp Part I: TECHNOLOGY PLANNING AND eTechPlanner OVERVIEW A. Purpose and Benefits B. Planning Model •Planning Overview Flow Chart (pdf) •Planning Model C. Planning Tasks D. Planning Tools E. Plan Output and Review Process Part II: TECHNOLOGY PLAN TABLE OF CONTENTS A. Critical Success Factors for Technology Planning B. eTechPlanner Table of Contents C. Planning Support Resources Part III: STATE APPROVAL CRITERIA CHECKLIST A. State Approval Criteria B. Criteria-Based Questions Linked to eTechPlanner C. Using the Approval Criteria Checklist (pdf) D. Approval Criteria Checklist Template (pdf) Technology Planning and eTechPlanner Overview Purpose and Benefits A. Purpose and Benefits The purpose of the eTechPlanner Overview is to provide leaders of district technology planning with background information to share with their planning teams. This information will enable the planning leaders to explain the structure, content, and process of the web- based eTechPlanner. There are several compelling reasons why all school districts need to develop or update their technology plans. Comprehensive planning for technology enables districts: to create and communicate to constituencies a system-wide vision of technology integration to guide and inspire change, and maximize the impact of scarce resources over time to build strong linkages between educational goals and essential technology support to take necessary support systems into account, such as technology-related staffing and equipment maintenance to link staff development to long-term education reform and technology integration goals to enable a monitoring, evaluation and revision process to enhance fiscal responsibility and long-term public support to enhance the understanding of staff to their roles in the transformation of learning environments in the Information Age to place the district in position for accessing funding opportunities in the local, state, national, and/or private arenas It is clear from national research that districts that have been able to introduce and integrate technologies into their instructional and administrative practices in meaningful and effective ways, have done so through comprehensive strategic planning efforts. Technology Planning and eTechPlanner Overview Planning Model B. Planning Model The foundation upon which the eTechPlanner is built is a technology planning model developed and adapted after months of research and input from school districts across Pennsylvania. The model is composed of nine phases that lead a district through a strategic planning process to create a three-year technology plan. In Phase 1 the technology planning team is formed. The planning team is provided with an overview of the planning process and the tasks involved in each phase. The initial work to begin the process includes identifying district demographics and reform considerations. Phase 2 results in the development or refinement of the district’s technology mission statement and vision. This phase also explores ongoing communications with the community, and developing potential partnerships and community collaborations. In Phase 3 you perform a comprehensive assessment of your district’s current status. As your team works through this phase, they may identify significant areas for improvement and/or potential goals for your technology plan, based on the data analysis. Keep this information handy for consideration in Phase 4, where the team will be defining strategic goals of the technology plan. Phase 4 will focus on identifying your district’s strategic goals for technology. These goals may consist of unattained goals from your previous plan, or new goals that have emerged with growing technology. After identifying your goals, you will also identify associated objectives. In Phase 5, the initial action plan structure is set in place, by creating action steps that are tied to the objectives previously defined in phase 4. Phase 6 produces the fully developed action plans, with estimated budget amounts, designated account codes, and identified potential funding sources. With this information, you'll check for redundancies and ensure consolidated purchasing decisions. A preliminary budget will be ready for you in Phase 7 based on the objectives and estimated costs you identify in the action plans. You will be able to revise this budget and identify required account codes. A final line item budget, and a compilation of identified funding sources for the anticipated expenses, will assist you in addressing the financial functions for implementing your plan. Additionally, a Total Cost of Ownership by objective report will assist in your assessment of estimated costs for completion of each of your stated objectives. Phase 8 completes the planning process by asking you to design an ongoing evaluation system to determine if your plan is achieving its goals and objectives. Upon completion of your technology plan and fulfillment of approval processes, the eTechPlanner Technology Plan will archive a read-only version of the eTechPlan for future reference. (To see the process flow, go to the The Technology Planning Overview Flow Chart) The Planning Model outlines a step-by-step process for developing a three-year district technology plan. The model describes the tasks involved in each planning phase. The Planning Model is designed to assist districts with organizing their planning efforts, and to ensure that the critical success factors and the State Approval Criteria are addressed. The phases and steps are not totally sequential. Several planning activities may be undertaken at the same time. The size of the district and the district's past experiences in strategic planning are factors to consider in the implementation and tailoring of the planning process at the local level. Where activities are dependent on others, eTechPlanner will instruct you with a recommended sequence. Technology Planning and eTechPlanner Overview Planning Model Phase Tasks 1.1 Document School District, Community Demographics, and School Facilities Phase 1.0 1.2 Establish Technology Planning Team with Broad- Prepare to Plan Based Stakeholder Representation 1.3 Clarify How Technology Practices can Promote Equity and Support Education Reform 2.1 Develop Technology Mission and Vision Statements with the Planning Team Phase 2.0 2.2 Develop an Ongoing Plan for Communicating with Build Stakeholders Communications 2.3 Investigate Potential Partnerships and Community Linkages 3.1 Document Success of Previous Technology Plan 3.2 Identify Curriculum Strengths and Challenges 3.3 Assess Staff and Students Technology Skills, Knowledge, and Usage 3.4 Conduct Current Software & Hardware Inventory 3.5 Identify Status of Facilities as Related to Phase 3.0 Technology Access and Use Assess Current Status 3.6 Assess Current Status of Technology Infrastructure for Meeting Education and Administrative Goals 3.7 Assess Current Technology Levels of Technology Support Services and Staffing 3.8 Assess Existing Staff Development Activities and Structures in Support of Technology Integration 3.9 Analyze Current Technology Budget and Recent Expenditures 4.1 Establish Curriculum and Learning Goals and Objectives Phase 4.0 4.2 Establish Administration and Management Goals Identify Strategic and Objectives Goals and Objectives 4.3 Establish Communication and Information Access Goals and Objectives 5.1 Identify Curriculum and Learning Technology Action Steps Phase 5.0 5.2 Identify Administration and Management Create Action Steps Technology Action Steps for Objectives 5.3 Identify Communication and Information Access Technology Action Steps 6.1 Determine Hardware Requirements and Action Plan 6.2 Determine Network Requirements and Action Plan 6.3 Determine Facilities Requirements and Action Plan 6.4 Determine Software Requirements and Action Plan Phase 6.0 Action Plan 6.5 Determine Staff Development Requirements and Development Action Plan 6.6 Determine Technology Staffing Requirements and Action Plan 6.7 Determine End-User Support Requirements and Action Plan 6.8 Determine Miscellaneous Requirements and Action Plan Phase 7.0 7.1 Develop Estimated Line Item Technology Budget Forecast Budget 8.1 Develop Processes for Action Plan Monitoring Phase 8.0 Maintain Plan 8.2 Determine Processes for Evaluating Impact of Technology Objectives Technology Planning and eTechPlanner Overview Planning Tasks C. Planning Tasks Each phase of the planning model is further broken down into a series of tasks that your planning team must complete in order to submit your district’s plan to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for approval. These tasks have been designed with great care to address all of the requirements for technology plans for PDE, Title II federal requirements, and those specified in the Telecommunications Act of 1996 for E-rate eligibility. By following the directions in the PlanBuilder for each task, your district team can be certain that it is addressing the required criteria for approval of the technology plan. Each task includes a Rationale explaining the purpose of the particular task and why it is important. Each task also includes one or more Key Questions. By working through the tasks, the planning team will be able to answer these guiding questions. Similarly, Outcomes describe what the end result of performing the task will be. This information is available by clicking on the appropriate link directly below the task title. In each required task, you will see 4 status buttons and the date the task was last updated. This status mechanism is for Technology Coordinators to use in monitoring the progress of the plan development. The following status indicators should be selected appropriately to show the progress toward completion of the tasks. The following definitions apply to the status of the task: DRAFT = Still in Progress FINAL = Finished and No Revisions Recommended BOARD Revisions Made, based on the local School Board REVISION = Review/Recommendations E-PEER Revisions Made, based on the ePeer REVISION = Review/Recommendations Similarly, each phase level page will display the following status indicators: In Progress Completed Not Started The phase status will reflect your progress based on the radio button status indicators you select at the task level. Technology Planning and eTechPlanner Overview Planning Tools D. Planning Tools The eTechPlanner provides a series of Tools to lead you through the creation of your 3-year technology plan. There are three types of tools available to you. The first type are the Required Tools. These are the tools that appear immediately after you select a Task to work on. You MUST complete all of the Required Tools in a particular task to submit your technology plan. You should complete these tools in the order listed. Some of the Required Tools are narrative input boxes, which allow you to write narratives for different sections of your plan. You will be able to copy and paste narratives from a Word Processor into eTechPlanner. However, if you want the paragraphs to be formatted correctly, you will need to use the formatting guidelines provided in the eTechPlanner accessible next to the narrative input boxes. These tools often have a series of guiding questions to give you direction in writing the narrative. Other Required Tools are a series of questions that lead you through the creation of important matrices, charts and diagrams that will be included in the final plan. As you work through the Required Tools, keep in mind that these tools are creating and saving your district’s technology plan as your team progresses in the planning process. In order to automate many functions of writing your district’s technology plan, the eTechPlanner Required Tools often carry information forward into other Phases and Tasks. For example, when you identify certain costs in your action plans in Phases 6 and 7, those costs will automatically be carried forward to Phase 8 in the budget section. Please keep this in mind as your work through the Required Tools. Generally speaking, if you need to modify data in these automated areas, you will be returned to the initial data entry area in the phase where it was initiated. The second type of tools are the Assistant Tools. The Assistant Tools have been designed to provide you with useful worksheets and other documents to “assist” your planning team in completing the Required Tools. The Assistant Tools are OPTIONAL. You are not required to use them if you feel you can complete the Required Tools without them. For example, to assist your team in creating a narrative for your technology plan that addresses the strengths and weaknesses in your curriculum, the eTechPlanner provides a curriculum assessment tool that your planning team can print out and use off-line to gather important data about your curriculum. The information is not entered into the eTechPlanner; however it will be useful in helping your team answer the guiding questions in the Required narrative tool, which is required. You may choose to use assessment tools of your own to evaluate curriculum rather than the Assistant Tool provided with the eTechPlanner for this purpose. Most of the Assistant Tools are provided in three formats: a print and use format (you’ll need Adobe Acrobat Reader). The Adobe 1. Acrobat files contain the extension: ".pdf" a Microsoft Word download format, in case your team would like to complete 2. the tool in electronic form, the MS Word documents contain the extension: ".doc" 3. a Microsoft Excel download format. MS Excel files have an extension: ".xls" Neither of these file formats will be included in the eTechPlanner, but may provide you with files formatted for your own use locally. Viewers for these types of files can be downloaded and are found on the eTechPlanner home page. The third type of tools are Reference Tools. The Reference Tools are designed to further assist you in completing a section of your plan but are not tied in any way to the creation or output of your plan. The Reference Tools may be links to the following: other internet resources on a particular topic addressed in the task you are working on (denoted by an extension of "www") links to eTechPlanner tasks that were already performed (also denoted by "www") samples that are provided for your information only in case your team would like a model to use or other tools or resources we’ve created for the eTechPlanner Resources Toolbox to provide you with further information or assistance Technology Planning and eTechPlanner Overview Plan Output and Review Process E. Plan Output and Process Review At various stages during the planning process, you will be given an opportunity to view the Plan Output. After you have worked through each phase of the plan and their associated tasks, you will be able to print a copy of your completed plan in "html" format for local use. The district will also submit the completed technology plan electronically to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. An ePeer Review Process has been established to pre-approve plans. Utilizing the State Approval Criteria, ePeer Reviewers from around the state have been recruited and trained to review plans through electronic communications. Reviewers read and provide feedback with recommendations on each district's plan. These review results are then forwarded to staff in the Office of Educational Technology, which then give final approval to the plan or return it in whole, or in part, for any necessary revisions. Once the plan has final approval, it's contents will be "Archived" and available in a “Read Only” format for future reference Technology Plan Table of Contents Critical Success Factors for Technology Planning A. Critical Success Factors for Technology Planning Experience and research on technology planning efforts reveal six critical factors that directly impact effective technology planning and successful implementation of technology goals. These factors are: Support of District Leadership The school board, superintendent, key administrators, school councils, and leaders of the parent and teacher associations need to be proactive in their commitment and support for technology infusion. With many competing priorities for limited resources in schools, this top-level support is important for the successful implementation of technology goals. Involvement of Community Stakeholders Planning must reflect the experience, thinking, input, and perspectives of teachers, students, administrators, parents, town officials, and local business and agency representatives. Everyone affected in the short and long term by the decisions made regarding technology in the schools must be involved or informed. Most importantly, the vision of how technology can be most effectively utilized to impact education reform must be a consensus vision which is fully endorsed by the implementors and fully supported by those who will make decisions for funding of the plan. Curriculum-Based Technology Objectives The focus of the planning effort must be the improvement of teaching and learning as well as the enhancement of effective district, school, and classroom management. Furthermore, student outcomes are the major reason to plan for and integrate technologies into the educational process. Improved learning is a primary way to engage community support. Therefore, decisions regarding technology goals and objectives must have strong curriculum and academic standards linkages. It is difficult to engage and sustain funding support for hardware lists with few or no clearly articulated connections to improved student learning. Staff Development A major obstacle to effective technology planning and implementation can be the failure to consider the staff development required to successfully integrate acquired equipment and resources into the learning process. Without sufficient staff development, technology is too often underutilized or used simply to automate older instructional methods and to deliver outmoded curriculum. Teachers and administrators must develop new competencies for applying technologies in support of education reform as reflected in the Pennsylvania Academic Standards. Technology competencies are also necessary to enable support staff to integrate technology into their major daily functions. Staff development planning needs to take into account the needs of all staff if technology resources are to be effectively used to improve efficiency. Technology Maintenance and Support Services Staff use of technology needs to be supported by a wide array of support services. Equipment and systems need to be maintained. Technology specialists at the school- and district-level are essential to keep systems up and running and to help staff to integrate appropriate technology into their daily activities. This support is ongoing and grows with increased access to technology resources. The Identification of Funding Resources District technology plans need to take into account different potential sources for funding that may be combined for successful implementation. The regular budget process is generally inadequate to support a major infusion of technology within a short timeframe. Business partnerships, grant opportunities, special municipal warrant articles, local foundations, and other sources need to be explored. Thorough strategic planning results in establishing clear direction over a timeline that can be expanded or shortened based upon the actual funding generated. School district leadership must consider incorporating, as an annual budgetary expenditure, funds to maintain existing technology, to provide technology-related staff development, to update or replace obsolete equipment on a regularly scheduled basis, and to provide necessary technology support staffing. Technology Plan Table of Contents eTechPlan Table of Contents B. eTechPlanner Table of Contents 1. PREPARE TO PLAN (*see NOTE at end of table) 1.1 School District, Community Demographics, and School Facilities 1.1.1 School District and Community: Demographics and Facilities Worksheet 1.1.2 School District, Community Demographics, and School Facilities 1.2 Establish Technology Planning Team and Stakeholders 1.2.1 Create and Maintain Planning Team Committees 1.2.2 Planning Process Overview 1.3 Technology and Education Reform 1.3.1 Technology Practices and Education Reform 2. BUILD COMMUNICATIONS 2.1 Mission and Vision Statements 2.1.1 Technology Mission Statement 2.1.2 Technology Vision Statement 2.2 Ongoing Community Communications 2.2.1 Ongoing Community Communications 2.3 Partnerships and Community Linkages 2.3.1Current & Potential Partnerships and Community Linkages 3. CURRENT TECHNOLOGY STATUS ASSESSMENT 3.1 Success of Previous Plan 3.1.1 Technology Goal Attainment 3.2 Curriculum Strengths and Challenges 3.2.1 Assessment Strengths and Weaknesses 3.3 Student and Staff Technology Skills, Knowledge, and Usage 3.3.1 Student Technology Access, Attitudes, Skills and Usage 3.3.2 Staff Technology Access, Attitudes, Skills and Usage 3.4 Software & Hardware Inventory 3.4.1 Quality, Quantity, and Distribution of Technology Resources 3.4.2 Understanding Security Measures 3.4.3 Technology Policies 3.4.4 Procurement Procedures 3.4.5 Technology Acquisition Model 3.5 Facilities 3.5.1 Facilities 3.5.2 Facility Problem Areas 3.6 District Infrastructure Plan and Design 3.6.1 Building/District Level Networking 3.6.2 Telecommunications Services Distribution 3.6.3 Video Distribution & Distance Learning Capabilities 3.7 Technology Support Services 3.7.1 District Technology Support Service Functions 3.8 Staff Development 3.8.1 Importance of Staff Development 3.9 Current Technology Budget Analysis 3.9.1 Analysis of Past, Current and Future Sources of Technology Funding 4. STRATEGIC GOALS AND OBJECTIVES 4.1 Curriculum and Learning 4.1.1 Curriculum and Learning Goals and Objectives 4.2 Administration and Management 4.2.1 Administration and Management Goals and Objectives 4.3 Communications and Information Access 4.3.1 Communications and Information Access Goals and Objectives 5. ACTION STEPS FOR OBJECTIVES 5.1 Curriculum and Learning Technology Action Steps 5.1.1 Action Steps for Curriculum and Learning Technology Objectives 5.2 Administration and Management Technology Action Steps 5.2.1 Action Steps for Administration and Management Technology Objectives 5.3 Communication and Information Access Technology Action Steps 5.3.1 Action Steps for Communication and Information Access Technology Objectives 6. ACTION PLAN DEVELOPMENT 6.1 Hardware 6.1.1 Action Plan for Hardware Requirements 6.2 Network 6.2.1 Action Plan for Network Requirements 6.3 Facilities 6.3.1 Action Plan for Facilities Requirements 6.4 Software 6.4.1 Action Plan for Software Requirements 6.5 Staff Development 6.5.1 Action Plan for Staff Development Requirements 6.6 Technology Staffing 6.6.1 Action Plan for Technology Staffing Requirements 6.7 End-User Support 6.7.1 Action Plan for End-User Support Requirements 6.8 Miscellaneous 6.8.1 Action Plan for Miscellaneous Requirements 7. FORECAST BUDGET 7.1 Estimated Line Item Technology Budget 7.1.1 Three-Year Budget 8. MAINTAIN PLAN 8.1 Plan Monitoring Strategies 8.1.1 Plan Monitoring Process 8.2 Evaluation Strategies 8.2.1 Impact Assessment NOTE: Number Scheme [e.g. 1.1 - represents Phase ( 1 ) and Task ( .1 ) ] in eTechPlanner] When referring to the eTechPlanner generated plan submission components, the additional digit (e.g. 1.1.1) reflects the sub-section of the eTechPlan output. This will be identified in eTechPlanner as Plan Output: 1.1.1 Technology Plan Table of Contents Planning Support Resources C. Planning Support Resources Training activities will be offered each fall on use of the eTechPlanner website. In addition to the planning preparation information available in this "Process Overview" section, we suggest that you visit the "General Information" section to gather additional relevant information and to explore the Frequently Asked Questions lists. Announcements regarding changes, updates, or workshop dates are sent out via Penn*Link and through the eTechPlanner itself. As you embark upon the technology planning process and have questions regarding the process or the eTechPlanner site, you may use the Contact Us form on this site for support. State Approval Criteria: eTechPlanner Plan Output State Approval Criteria A. State Approval Criteria To receive state approval, a district technology plan must include the following: 1. Description of how plan development involved community stakeholders and linkages to community resources, such as public libraries and adult literacy providers. 2. Technology mission and vision statements developed with the input from community stakeholders and expressing a commitment to: equity of technology access for all students the PA State Academic Standards providing access for teachers, parents, and students to the best teaching practices and curriculum resources professional development in support of technology integration improved administrative efficiency and accountability 3. An analysis of current status that includes: success of previous planning efforts curriculum strengths and weaknesses staff and student skills and knowledge in regard to technology an inventory of hardware, software, and network resources status of facilities in regard to readiness for technology infusion available staffing and support services for technology technology-related staff development activities and structures review of recent expenditures for technology 4. Goals and objectives for a three-year plan addressing technology integration in the following areas: curriculum and learning administration and management communication and information access 5. Action steps that support the district’s stated technology goals and objectives, to include requirements for: hardware networks facilities software staff development technology staffing end-user support miscellaneous 6. Three-year action plans for achieving the Technology Solution Design, and Human Resource and Support Needs that include timelines, assigned responsibilities, and estimated budget for each objective for: hardware networks facilities upgrades software staff development technology staffing and support services end-user support miscellaneous 7. A three-year annual budget to fund the district’s technology plan, which includes specific budget estimates for: networking (LAN and WAN) hardware software professional development additional human resources and a list of potential funding sources with coordinated funding from grants, partnerships, state and local funding sources. 8. A description of how implementation of the technology plan will be monitored, its impact evaluated, and the plan periodically upgraded and revised. State Approval Criteria: eTechPlanner Plan Output Criteria-Based Questions Linked to eTechPlan Table of Contents B. Criteria-Based Questions Linked to eTechPlanner Table of Contents Note: (1.2) refers to the Draft eTechPlanner Table of Contents section 1. Plan Preparation (Stakeholders and Reform Considerations) Does the plan describe how its development involved a planning team consisting of school staff and community stakeholders? (1.2) 2. Build Communications (Technology Mission and Vision, Stakeholder Communications and Community Involvement) Does the plan include vision and mission statements that were developed with input of stakeholders? (2.1) Do the mission and vision express a commitment to: providing equity of technology access across the district, across grade levels, within subject areas, within classrooms, for all student populations? the PA State Academic Standards? (2.1) providing access for teachers, parents, and students to exemplary teaching practices and learning resources? (2.1) professional development in support of technology integration? (2.1) improved administrative efficiency and accountability? (2.1) Does the plan provide evidence that the district has investigated linkages to business partnerships and community resources such as public libraries and adult literacy providers? (2.3) 3. Current Technology Status Analysis Does the plan include a report on current status based upon assessment of: previous planning efforts? (3.1) identified curriculum strengths and weaknesses? (3.2) staff and student technology skills and knowledge? (3.3) inventoried hardware, software, and network resources? (3.4, 3.6) facilities in regard to readiness for technology infusion? (3.5) staffing and support for technology? (3.7) technology-related staff development activities/structures? (3.8) 4. Strategic Goals and Objectives Are there three-year goals and objectives provided to promote the district’s effort to use technology to support learning outcomes as expressed in local curricula and the PA Academic Standards? (4.1) Are there three-year goals and objectives provided to promote the district’s effort to use technology to improve administrative effectiveness and management efficiency? (4.2) Are there three-year goals and objectives provided to promote the district’s effort to use technology to improve communication and information access for students, teachers, administrators, and community stakeholders? (4.3) 5. Action Steps for Objectives Does the plan include action steps that support the district's stated goals and objectives for technology integration in the following areas: curriculum and learning?(5.1) administration and management? (5.2) communication and information access? (5.3) Do the objectives' action steps include requirements for: hardware networks facilities upgrades software staff development technology staffing and support services end-user support miscellaneous 6. Action Plan Development Is there a three-year action plan for achieving the technology objectives that include timelines and assigned responsibilities for each initiative? (6.1 - 6.4) Is there a three-year action plan for achieving the technology objectives that include timelines and assigned responsibilities for each initiative? (6.5 - 6.8) 7. Fiscal Analysis and Budget Is there a three-year budget, with an annual breakdown, for funding the district’s technology plan, with specific budget estimates in the categories below? (7.1) networking (LAN and WAN) hardware software professional development proposed human resources Have potential funding sources for the plan been identified, including the coordination of funding from grants, partnerships, donations, and state and local funding? (7.1) 8. Plan Review and Evaluation Is a process defined for how implementation of the technology plan objectives will be monitored? (8.1) Does the plan include strategies for measuring the achievement and impact of technology plan objectives? (8.2) The Ten Commandments of Technology Planning (CED) 1. Consult teachers. Establish a technology committee Determine educational objectives. Conduct an inventory of existing hardware, software, and human resources. Develop professional development strategies. Establish a timetable. Create budgets. Review the draft of the plan Identify new software, curricula, and instructional techniques. Establish linkages of technology-based assessment and administrative tasks, including scheduling and record keeping. Next eRate filing window opens Nov. 5 September 26, 2003 On Nov. 5, schools and libraries can begin applying for 2004 eRate discounts to help pay for their internet and telephone service, according to the Schools and Libraries Division (SLD) of the Universal Service Administrative Co., which administers the $2.25 billion-a-year program. Five Easy Ways to Guarantee Funding Denial Want to make sure that funding request gets denied? Want to make sure there’s practically no chance for a successful appeal? It’s easy! Just do one of these things: Sign a contract less than 28 days after you filed the Form 470 listing that service. List a service provider as a contact on Form 470 Submit a funding request for a service that was not listed on a Form 470 Miss the Form 471 filing window Fail to certify a Form 470 by the close of the Form 471 filing window You get no extra credit from the SLD for doing more than one of these things. After all, you can’t kill something that’s already dead. Who Needs an E-rate Consultant? Maybe you do! Think an E-rate consultant can triple your funding dollars? Probably not, unless you haven't been participating in the program or didn't realize that phone service was eligible. Think an E-rate consultant can find a way to get 30 laptop computers through review in the telecommunications category? Don't hold your breath. Why, then, hire a consultant? It's as easy as 1-2-3. 1. You want to make sure you file for all eligible services 2. You can't afford to have funding denied because of an inadvertent error, non- compliant behavior or a missed deadline. 3. You've got enough work on your plate without worrying about filing forms and memorizing eligibility criteria and studying program guidelines. A consultant can help you in these areas. Most administrators handle E-rate filing as a part- time job for the technical director. A technical director already has a full-time job, and so E- rate activities have to be squeezed in among other duties. The end result is a last-minute approach to filing and only a hazy knowledge of SLD guidelines. Why else would so many schools be filing on deadline day or getting service provider help in filing, not realizing that such activity can result in funding denial? Consultants bring knowledge and continuity to the process. They know SLD guidelines and practices that can lead to funding denial. They are familiar with eligible services and with the underlying philosophies that shape the eligibility list. They also understand the precision demanded in form content and in deadlines. And they apply this knowledge 365 days a year amidst vacations, maternity leaves and transfers. Working with a consultant, schools go into a funding year with a realistic view of what will be funded and what must be budgeted. If there's a lot of funding at stake or you are being stretched in your job due to budget cuts, consider consulting help. It's a cheap form of insurance and a sure-fire stress reliever.
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