Although the new school semester may seem like ages away, many educators can attest that semesters seem to begin and end in the blink of an eye. The winter is a critical time for preparing a new budget. What steps can be taken to adequately prepare?

While students are adjusting to life back at school after the holidays, educators are poring over the budget. Schools differ slightly on how their budgets are constructed and general budget timeline; however, the majority of schools make important budgeting and purchasing decisions during the winter. If a school has leftover budget dollars, they will often reexamine how they want those remaining budget dollars to be allocated during this time period. While having leftover budget dollars is a plus, it can be difficult if this scenario is not planned for. It is important to use the budget planning time to decide what any leftover budget dollars will be used for, depending on how much remains. When it comes to budget, planning for the unexpected is the best course of action.

There’s no question that education technology can eat up a large portion of a school or district’s budget. When looking at education technology products and factoring it into the budget, efficacy data plays an important role. Utilizing the fall semester to gather feedback can prevent scrambling trying to get efficacy data during the winter. For many teachers, the fall semester is the first time they have used a new education technology product in-depth. The end of the first semester is a critical time for technology directors to get overarching feedback on new education technology products. If you wait until May to see the results of your efficacy data, you won’t be able to make decisions based on that data alone. Is an education technology product proving to be effective? Steps should be taken to ensure feedback has been gathered from teachers about how effective their education technology products are. But how can you gauge if an education technology product is effective?

As we discussed in our “Strategic Budgeting” blog, it is necessary to have a concrete plan about what the district is hoping to get out of the technology. Are you looking to improve reading scores? Test scores? Without setting goals for the technology you purchase, it is difficult to gauge if it is worth a continued investment. There are many tools on the market that will allow you to measure if your education technology is effective. Ed Tech RCE Coach is one such tool. It gathers data that allow you to answer if your education technology program is leading to desired outcomes, and if you should keep paying for a software tool you’re already using. Are expensive technology products with licensing fees being utilized to the best of the teacher’s abilities? Ed Tech RCE Coach is also a beneficial tool, as it allows you to view findings from other evaluations done by users like you.

Budgeting can be incredibly difficult, but there are resources that help make this process simpler. The Government Finance Officers Association is an in-depth guide that offers step-by-step suggestions for budget planning. The Principal’s Guide to School Budgeting by Richard D. Sorenson and Lloyd M. Goldsmith is another available resource. Good luck to all of the educators planning your budget!