By Alison Attebery
Finding funding for classroom technology or any initiative is challenging. As you're looking to help students achieve academic success and develop a collaborative learning environment with classroom audio, here are some ideas on how to locate funds for your immediate needs, for the next school year, and beyond.
School District Funding
There may be current funding opportunities within your school. An excellent place to start is learning your different budget categories. Because of the various benefits it provides, classroom audio can fall under many budget “buckets,” such as some of the ones mentioned in this guide to school budgets from the American Association of School Administrators:
- Technology or Instructional - These categories typically include classroom tools.
- Curriculum and Staff Development - Lightspeed’s Activate system, along with supporting small group learning, can be used to capture and share video and audio for professional development.
- SPED - While everyone benefits from the even distribution of sound it provides, classroom audio systems can be especially helpful in supporting hearing deficit students or those with other learning difficulties.
As you partner with your principal or department heads to discuss implementing this tool, here are some resources to help show how you and your class will benefit from classroom audio.
Another good funding source is your school’s parent/teacher organizations. Most of these groups are already familiar with fundraising for your school and have relationships with community members that could offer assistance. Parents are always an invaluable resource as well, like these two moms who partnered with their district to get classroom audio and or with this California school who asked parents to help pitch in other places so the school could afford classroom audio.
Bonds and Contracts
Research what proposed bonds are in your district. New construction bonds are a great opportunity to get classroom audio included when new schools are being designed –like this Colorado school district. Bonds around retrofits and updating A/V equipment are also an optimal time to talk to your administration about adding classroom audio.
Also, ask your purchasing department or administration what contracts your school district currently holds or could use that might include classroom audio. Statewide, district and cooperative purchasing contacts may provide discounted pricing, free shipping or other benefits that decrease costs.
Consider what federal and state sources are available. With other teachers seeing a 10% improvement in reading and language test scores with classroom audio, Title I funds could be a good fit for your school. Though many think that Title I can only be used for remedial instruction, the actual goal of the program is to provide funds for school-wide educational program updates to increase low-performing student achievement – including purchasing technology devices.
If your school is in a smaller or rural district, you can also check to see if your district receives:
- Rural, Low-Income School (RLIS) grants. These grants provide financial assistance to rural school districts to help improve student achievement.
- Small, Rural School Achievement Program (SRSA) grants. The SRSA program helps small rural educational agencies use federal resources more effectively to increase student academic achievement.
Also, be sure to visit your state’s education department website. States are continuously passing bills and legislature to support educational needs. Oregon recently approved $9 billion in K-12 funding through 2021, and Texas passed House Bill 3 that supports a variety of education efforts.
Community Partners and Grants
If there isn’t any extra money in your school budget, and the timing for state or federal funding doesn't align with your immediate needs, your community usually has opportunities. Local foundations, boards, and businesses are often committed to helping improve education and other local organizations. This Michigan elementary school is an example of how community foundations can help.
There are also numerous nation-wide grants your school can pursue. THE Journal keeps an updated list of educational funding opportunities.
Here to Help You
Classroom audio systems help increase class participation, improve test scores, and decrease behavioral issues. So why wait to use it with your students?
Lightspeed has been working with educators for thirty years and has partnered with districts across the nation. We can assist you in finding options to quickly get this integral solution for engagement and collaboration in your classroom. Contact a consultant now to learn how we can help you.