It’s that time of the year again. School is almost back in session, and as educators prepare for another year, it’s only a matter of time before budget season is back as well.
These days, with a sluggish economy rearing its ugly head in the wallets of taxpayers, many districts are strapped for cash. But education remains in the forefront of our thoughts: Just because districts for the most part aren’t given their desired budget requests doesn’t mean that it’s acceptable to let the quality of education decline. Educators have to be more creative with the funds available to them. They have to figure out how to do more with less. One way that can help them achieve that goal is by implementing a unified communications solution across their district.
Imagine the principal of an elementary school in your district is having computer problems. She is trying to track down the district’s technology director, but he’s not at his desk. We all know that most people these days have smartphones attached to their hips, but the principal doesn’t have the technology director’s number. The technology director works out of central office, but he’s at one of the district’s middle schools trying to install new software on the computer systems there. It’s not something that needs to be done immediately—the software doesn’t need to be used until next quarter—but the director has free time that particular day and figures to get it done. Meanwhile, he has no idea the principal is trying to contact him and has no idea her computer is not functioning properly.
If the district had implemented unified communications tools, the two administrators could easily contact each other no matter where they happened to be. Thanks to the presence feature, the principal would know whether the technology director was available. If he was, she could shoot him a quick instant message to let him know the nature of the problem and he could put the software installation on hold and help get her computer back online.
Time is money, and whether we like to think so or not, that phrase holds true in the education field as much as anywhere. When the principal’s computer is out of commission, she can’t fully perform all aspects of her job. And the time she spends tracking down the technology director could be spent better elsewhere.
Miami-Dade County School District recently implemented a unified communications solution. By reducing travel costs and increasing productivity, the district saves $250,000 each year. That’s a sizable amount of money, and it certainly adds up year after year. By becoming more efficient, the district is able to invest the money it saves in students.
Administrators who find themselves having to get creative during the budget process should consider a one-time investment in a hosted unified communications solution. Once that investment is made, the district should expect to receive a great return, both financially and educationally. The communications tools also make the job of educators easier, freeing them to direct more of their energy toward instructing students.
By: Dana Jaffe