1. Burbio has compiled 6,000 ESSER III plans covering over 82% of US K-12 students and this week we break down planned technology spending. The chart below is an example of a category, the number of districts with intent to buy, and the size of the market for those services.
From above, 1,528 districts are spending $2.7 billion on mobile devices, 1,559 districts are spending $1.1 billion on technology infrastructure and hardware, etc. It is worth noting some of the categories we highlighted in last week's blog, specifically instructional materials and tutoring, have software components that are often put in the technology category in school budgets.
2. As part of Burbio's ongoing School Budget Tracker data product we are compiling a dataset of detailed operating and capital budgets that categorizes planned FY 23 spending. In technology there is widespread adoption of "one-to-one" device initiatives (the terminology can vary), which describes the concept of schools providing every student in a district with their own laptop/tablet. In addition to the associated hardware expenses, we note other expenses that grow with the adoption of these programs. Among the examples.
- Technical support personnel: Cabarrus County Schools, NC in their "Technology Expansion" request asks for $210,000 in "break-fix technicians" and $170,000 for "Increase Chromebook Repair" in the budget below:
From the budget: "In March of 2020, CCS began allowing Chromebooks to be taken home . . . .This change alone has increased the repair incidents for Chromebooks dramatically. The state recommends one technician for every 900 devices (1:900). Our current ratio with all devices is 1:2,700; almost 3 times the recommended ratio from the state. In addition to these traditional devices, our technicians are responsible for supporting and maintaining classroom and office equipment. . . ."
- Technical infrastructure: In this chart from Spotsylvania Public Schools, VA note that technical infrastructure is the highest item in their Capital Technology budget:
3. In other news from around the country:
- The School District of Newberry County, SC has established internet shut-off times for school-issued district devices. PK-5 will be "internet disabled" at 8 pm, 6th to 8th grade at 10 pm, and 9th-12th grade at midnight. "Research clearly shows that too much screen time can negatively affect our health," reads this FAQ on the regulations. "It is important to combat the adverse effects of screen time by balancing it with screen-free activities outside of the classroom and home . . . Because we are providing the device, it is important that we do so with healthy boundaries . . . "
- In Grand Rapids Public Schools, MI, October 5th was "Count Day." "A percentage of the state funding for our public schools is based on total scholar attendance on Wednesday, October 5," reads the announcement. "Spread the Word: E-mail, Facebook, Twitter, blog, and talk to all your family, friends, and neighbors encouraging 100% attendance . . ." The day, which counts for 90% of the funding districts receive in Michigan, occurs the first Wednesday in October, but this year fell on Yom Kippur, resulting in clarification from this local media report, "If a student is absent on count day, he or she has 10 days to return if the absence was unexcused or 30 days to return if it was excused and still be counted toward a district’s enrollment . . ."
- Tenaha ISD, TX, introduced the Guardian Program that will have selected staff carrying firearms. "Schools, as 'Gun Free Zones,' have been seen as 'free fire zones' by troubled individuals," reads the announcement "They have become aware there is no one firing back . . . New signage will be posted on all campuses stating, 'ATTENTION: Please be aware that the staff of Tenaha ISD may be armed and will use whatever force necessary to protect our students and staff.'"
- In one example of many attendance incentives we are seeing, Hickman Hills C-1 School District, MO is having a "friendly competition within schools" where the school with highest attendance gets a school wide celebration. Incentives change monthly and range from ice cream cups, popcorn, cinnamon buns, donuts, and popsicles. Gainesville ISD, TX offers a cash prize drawing for staff who have perfect attendance each six week grading period.
- RSU 57, ME's Superintendent message includes themes mentioned by districts across the country: "We have welcomed a number of amazing new staff members . . . I am also thankful for the manner in which our veteran staff members have welcomed their new colleagues . . . student attendance rates are significantly higher . . . than . . . the past two school years . . . we've also seen a strong increase in the rate of staff attendance . . . student participation rates in extracurricular activities are up across the board . . . there were 539 students in attendance at this past weekend's Homecoming Dance! That level of attendance is unheard of and, I think, is a strong indication of the positive culture and climate changes our high school has put in place . . ."