IT leaders say strategic communications can support tech investments

K-12 schools have always had an inspiring mission—to prepare the next generation to be leaders—and IT staff have been dedicated to helping educators accomplish this important mission, often on limited budgets. For many, however, removing legacy technology and upgrading schools with more efficient tools isn’t just a math problem; it’s a solution. School leaders see technology as an investment in students that can pay off in the distant future.

Sometimes technology’s impact on K-12 is easy to understand. At other times, IT teams must help their colleagues understand this investment. For example, Chris Bowers, IT Manager for New Albany–Floyd County Consolidated School Corp, was looking for replacements for his district’s aging servers. Moving to hyperconverged infrastructure in Indiana. Switching to HCI “saved our staff a lot of upfront costs and … ongoing time,” all without downtime, he said.

IT leaders must join the conversation at the top

While money-saving technology is certainly exciting, savings don’t always come naturally. That’s why when IT leaders discuss funding technology with stakeholders in their region, they must be comfortable discussing IT’s role in the mission.

At Southern California’s Saddleback Valley Unified School District, Chief Technology Officer Ozzy Cortez knows strategic conversations are key to sustaining technology investments into the future.

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“When you’re talking about lifecycle management,” he advises, “you need to make sure that technical services have a seat at cabinet level and that the department’s plans are aligned with the board’s goals.”

Chris Jenks, the school’s technology director in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, said explaining to the community why technology investments in physical security are needed is critical.

“In terms of safety, probably because of our track record, our school community trusts us,” he said. “We don’t want to break that trust, so we’ve been having these conversations.”

Technology and mission should not be considered separately in education—and even less so when developing tomorrow’s leaders. With a little help from IT, these core concepts can meaningfully coexist.

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