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Technology Spending Stalls Survey Finds

School budgets for technology are "stuck in neutral," according to a recent survey of school leaders.

In the online survey in March of 455 administrators from across the country, 62 percent reported that their districts’ technology budgets had decreased or stayed the same over the past three years, while 38 percent reported that their budgets had increased.

The survey of school technology decisionmakers—such as superintendents, assistant superintendents, and instructional technology directors—was conducted by Grunwald Associates, a San Francisco-based research firm, in collaboration with the Consortium for School Networking, a professional group representing technology officials.

The survey uncovered disparities in technology spending among districts, which the authors found worrisome. Yet they conclude that good leadership and strong community support allow some school districts to bolster their technology plans and budgets.

For example, some districts are finding ways to raise or redirect funds to maintain or increase their support for technology, even amid difficult budget times.

Schools that are less committed to using technology are cutting budgets, reducing staff, and going without professional development to help educators use technology more effectively.

The survey asked whether districts had made any return-on-investment calculations to evaluate the effectiveness of their technology purchases. Two-thirds of districts do not consider or use such calculations when they buy or evaluate technology.

—Andrew Trotter

After School

A business group outlines seven principles for building high-quality after-school systems in a new report.

Corporate Voices for Working Families, an organization based in Washington whose 47 member companies employ 4 million people, calls on local, state, and federal governments, as well as the private and nonprofit sectors, to assess existing after-school programs and to support expanded care for working families.

"Much progress has been made on after-school initiatives and American businesses are responding, but more needs to be done," Donna Klein, the president and chief executive officer of the group, said in a news release.

The group says, among its other advice, that after-school programs should: establish learning as their central mission; provide links between parents, schools, and programs; ensure professional staff members with the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to support young people; create and support an infrastructure built on public/private collaborations at the local, state, and national levels; and embrace accountability for measurable results.

—Erik W. Robelen

Education Overseas

Funding by Congress for basic education programs of the U.S. Agency for International Development has more than tripled, from $103 million in fiscal 2001 to $326 million in fiscal 2004, according to a report the agency submitted to Congress last week. In that time, the USAID has expanded its basic education projects from 20 to 43 countries.

For More Info
"The Basic Education Report to Congress" is not yet available from the USAID, but it is expected to eventually be available on its Web site.

The report says that the USAID is focusing much of its education development work on Asia and the Near East. ("U.S. Turns to Classrooms to Fight Terrorism," June 9, 2004.) Approximately 46 percent of the agency’s basic education resources are going to those areas of the world. The report describes themes in education development that have emerged in certain world regions, such as mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS in Africa’s education systems and developing private-public partnerships in Asia and the Near East.

—Mary Ann Zehr

School Spending

School spending reached $370 billion in the 2001-02 school year, a 5.8 percent increase from the previous year, according to data released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Over the same period, spending on school construction and other capital outlays increased by 8.4 percent, to $52.9 billion, the Census Bureau reported in its annual release of U.S. school finance data.

From 2000-01 to 2001-02, school districts’ debt increased to $226 billion, a 12.4 percent rise, the bureau reports.

—David J. Hoff

Vol. 23, Issue 40, Page 20

Published in Print: June 16, 2004, as Report Roundup
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