How Private Schools with Tiny Budgets are Funding Technology
As more private and independent schools struggle to find funding for basics, sometimes things that will advance their schools and their students – like technology — can get sidelined.
The reality is, technology is a new “basic” today’s schools can’t do without in order to thrive.
Yours may be among many small independent or private schools that are constantly seeking ways to fund the technology you know is necessary to equip your students to compete and succeed in tomorrow’s economy.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of creative ways to fund technology, it helps to first narrow down the technological tools that will have the most impact on your school.
We all know that technology is more than iPads for the classroom – it’s a big word that encompasses many things. One of the key challenges smaller schools face is that with so many tools and applications, it’s often hard to know what types of technology will have the most impact. The question is, what technological choices will advance their school quickly and in a lasting way, without huge expense, expertise and disruption to deploy them?
While schools across the country are finding creative ways to fund the tangibles of tablets and laptops, or a new website, one piece of technology that may be overlooked and will advance a school (and its students) further than all of those combined, is a cloud-based school management application. Some people still refer to them as SIS – Student Information Systems, but the moniker of yesterday’s machine-based programs doesn’t quite fit new, cloud-based products like MySchoolWorx, which seamlessly operates like a central nervous system for a school, its’ students and parents. It’s not a “shiny object” like a hand-held device, but its affect can be powerful.
Schools that have adopted a robust cloud-based tool like MySchoolWorx are instantly ahead – no matter their size or lack of budget – because they’ve found one piece of technology that has a huge impact on nearly every aspect of their school. From improving parent communications, engagement in their students’ education, to freeing up more classroom time for teachers, helping students improve their overall performance by staying on top of assignments, grades and more – and helping admins actually increase enrollment (and therefor tuition funds) and stay on top of it all, this tool will do it all. And because the product is designed to constantly be updated with easy to use new features, and it keeps schools ahead.
That sounds like a lot for one application that requires no servers or IT staff to run. But it’s one of the biggest things to come out of cloud-based technology for schools today.
Creative Funding for Technology
From grants to special programs and donors and other financial angels, schools have been looking for all sorts of external sources to fund the technology they need, and there are some viable opportunities out there. Many of them take time and patience to realize, and often have a multitude of criteria and requirements that some schools can’t meet. The funding we are going to look at actually comes from a place many schools might have overlooked: within.
The Many Hidden Costs of Paper
The surprise benefit we want to illustrate here is how a high tech tool like MySchoolWorx can actually fund itself – and that of additional programs and technology for your school (whether that be shiny new gadgets or other things your school may yearn for.)
Paper forms cost us much more than just ink and paper. A product like MySchoolWorx will dramatically cut the considerable cost of paper and time spent creating it, distributing it, tracking it down, collecting it, filing it, storing, retrieving it and ultimately disposing of it.
You may be thinking, well, we really don’t spend that much on paper, and certainly not enough to fund technology. You’d be surprised.
In 2013, inspired by statistics reported by Gartner, IDC, The Aberdeen Group and Price Waterhouse Cooper on environments that do not leverage technology to manager their paper and processes, MySchoolWorx conducted a study of private schools on the costs associated with creating, processing and compiling the paper forms they used into reportable data.
As the infographic here illustrates, the forms that many schools still use to track discipline, attendance, lunches, gradebooks, tuition payments and so on, have a lot more cost associated with them than just paper and ink.
Looking at a common discipline form and the cost of the many touch points, the life cycle of a single discipline form up to just the filing stage can cost a school $5.54; Attendance forms $4.73, Lunch forms $6.33, Gradebook $5.90 and Invoicing forms $4.90 per event.
When a school multiplies the cost of these five basic forms times the average number of events they experience per month, they’ll find it quickly adds up.
A school of 150 recently went through the paces and determined they were spending a net of roughly $3670 annually for just these 5 types of forms alone. If your school is like most, you likely have additional forms and manual processes to capture and manage other student and school activities.
Ben Roberts, the consultant to MySchoolWorx who led the study, says this is typical. “The amount schools can save by using a system that eliminates these forms and many of the steps involved in creating, distributing, tracking and filing them is a real eye opener for schools. We are all so accustomed to using paper in our daily lives that we continue to invest in it without even thinking about it. But the reality is that it adds up quickly and is a bigger burden on schools than realized,” Roberts says.
Of course, there will always be other important uses for paper.
“In the case of the many functions and means for communicating those functions that MySchoolWorx provides, it’s just not necessary. The savings MySchoolWorx generates not only pay for the software itself, they are allowing schools to fund other much-needed projects and programs, and they like that,” Roberts added.
Another source from within is in tuition technology fees. Many schools are beginning to add a nominal “Tech fee” (often less than $10 a month per student) to their tuition that can cover a sophisticated School Management application like MySchoolWorx and have a few dollars left over to increase their tech hardware. Successful schools spell it out to their parents to highlight its value.
“As a former school administrator I know that delicate balance of affordable tuition and value,” says Tim Green, CEO of MySchoolWorx. “What we are finding is that parents not only aren’t objecting to a small fee that helps them be more connected to their child’s education, they are happy to do so. Of course, what makes this doable is the fact MySchoolWorx’ price is extremely affordable and all inclusive. School admins don’t have to worry about extra charges for things like premium support or new features because it’s all included.”
Green points out that when schools realize the savings associated with paper vs cloud, requesting a technology fee isn’t necessary. Some schools add them anyway to help defray the cost of other hardware, on campus Wi-Fi, curriculum or other programs. “The bottom line is that parents are willing to pay for things that result in preparing their kids for success,” he added.
To request a free custom analysis of your school’s paper system, or for a complimentary trial of MySchoolWorx, you can contact us at 1-866-990-2493 or click here.