Availing Opportunities in Your Federal Funds for Technology

Type: Article
Topics: Advocacy & Policy, American Rescue Plan, Finance & Budgets, School Administrator Magazine, Technology & AI

February 01, 2022

The challenges are real, too, with limits on the horizon for use of the substantial support
Aleck Johnson
Aleck Johnson

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when most learning moved online, technology moved to the forefront of education for teachers, staff and administrators. “For us, the pandemic changed these technologies from being ‘nice to have’ to ‘mission critical,’” says Chad Meyer, director of technology for Milwaukee Public Schools.

The shift to online was abrupt and unexpected. The transition among public schools in Minnesota is illustrative of the disruption across the country.

On Sunday, March 15, 2020, Governor Tim Walz announced that all schools in Minnesota were to close by the following Wednesday and were to remain shuttered through March 27 “so staff could use those eight days to prepare for a future shift to distance learning,” says Josh Sumption, director of technology at Southwest West Central Service Cooperative in Marshall, Minn.

“What we didn’t know was that March 17 would be the last day that students would be walking the halls in our schools for the remainder of the 2020 school year,” he adds. “Although districts are typically directed by careful planning, where change is slow and painful, many of our districts packed five years of change into those eight days.”

While some positive developments emerged, Sumption says, “the chaos of it all left much to be desired. We never in our wildest dreams thought the shift to online learning would occur over eight days, resulting in mobile device carts being torn apart, devices slated for disposal being recommissioned and the frantic purchasing of any mobile devices that could be found.”

Educational leaders were left scrambling to find the funding for all the needed technology.

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Aleck Johnson

Vice president

EdTech Strategies in Urbandale, Iowa.