Sun (1996) describes funding strategies for education technology:
"Historically, schools across the nation have approached instructional technology as an 'add on' in terms of funding. Although schools have budget lines for staff salaries, transportation, building and facilities maintenance, textbooks, and other essentials, few schools allocate regular funding for the purchase, maintenance, upgrading, support, and professional development related to new technologies. Rather, a majority of districts across the nation rely upon grants, special bond issues, and more often than not, charity and philanthropy to support the integration of technology into instruction. School boards and committees have yet to fully accept technology as a cost of doing business. In this case, the business is one of equitably preparing children with the skills and abilities necessary for lifelong success.
Technologies such as networked or stand-alone computer workstations, along with suitable software and applications, can aid teachers in the creation of learning environments that support the development of investigation, communication, and cooperative social skills. Students working in technology-rich environments have the opportunity to participate in authentic, engaging projects. But such environments do not come inexpensively. Many schools are unable to provide the technology needed to support engaged learning. Schools that would like to obtain more technology can use the following strategies for funding technology acquisition and implementation:
- All requests for technology funding must be tied to the school or district technology plan. This plan should be put into place before any serious attempt is made for funding.
- The requested funding should establish a link between technology and the bigger picture of teaching and learning. Technology is not an end in itself but a helpful tool for creating and supporting engaged learning environments. Therefore, funding requests should clearly support a higher purpose than simply the acquisition of hardware and equipment. Unfortunately, this fact often is overlooked by those new to or unfamiliar with the technology-enhanced classroom. Making this linkage explicit in the technology plan can aid in understanding why technology funding is important.
- The best bet for technology funding is to build community support and to develop funding out of local resources.
- Technology is an ongoing investment and therefore should be considered as a regular expense, not a one-time purchase. Schools or districts should seek school budget line items for technology or should include technology in other existing budget lines (such as facilities) rather than relying upon bonds and one-time expenditures.
- Bond initiatives are useful for initial technology implementation, but they do not address ongoing expenses. Although bonds can bring in a large amount of funding for implementing large-scale networking projects and purchasing equipment, technology implementation ultimately relies upon factors such as training, repair, and maintenance. These factors are ongoing expenses and cannot be financed all at once.
- The value of grants can be increased if they are matched by local contributions. Although schools and districts appreciate grant funds for hardware and other infrastructure needs, the grant value is increased if it is matched by local contributions toward ongoing expenses. Therefore, grant requests should always indicate where local funds or other resources will match the requested funding. Further, the local match should be specific about what it will finance and about how the combined grant and local match will fulfill the school or district's technology goals.
- Equipment donations must be critically appraised as a funding mechanism for technology. Some donations are useful, both practically and politically, as a graphic demonstration of local support for a school's technology efforts. Nevertheless, schools must be wary of becoming dumping grounds for old equipment that may need repair or maintenance work. Old equipment may be better than nothing, but schools ultimately need the same level of technology as the business world. In short, schools should neither universally accept nor reject technology donations. Instead, they should critically examine the value of such donations in light of their overall technology strategy.
- All technology funding requests should incorporate discussion of how the results of the funding will be evaluated for their impact on teaching and learning."