For Public Schools, the Long and Bumpy Road to Going Digital

For Public Schools, the Long and Bumpy Road to Going DigitalRyan Imbriale had a quick and concise answer when asked whether his school district, Baltimore County Public Schools, received enough state funding to pay for its transition from textbooks to software: “No.”

As executive director of the district’s innovative learning department, Imbriale is overseeing a five-year project, called BCPS One, to move its entire curriculum online and make it available to teachers and students. He estimates that the district will spend more than $1 million a year on digital resources for its 108,376 students. The district was “lucky enough,” he said, to get one of the governor’s innovation grants.

On the other side of the country, the San Francisco Unified School District pays about $800,000 a year for software licenses and maintenance. Even with discounts from the companies, “the price tag is beyond the budget we get from the state” for technology, said Chief Technology Officer Matthew Kinzie. He said the district is seeking grants and donations to cover the costs.

But depending on these occasional infusions of money and continuing to look for outside resources isn’t practical.“Those are not sustainable funding streams that people can count on year after year,” said Doug Levin, executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA).

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