No More Technology Plans!!


We recently received word from the Network Coordinator, Mary Mehsikomer, indicating that schools applying for Priority 1 services for E-Rate will no longer be required to submit a Technology Plan. See below list of changes.

 

  1.  Technology plans will no longer be required for school districts and libraries who are applying only for Priority 1 services (telecommunications and Internet access).
  2.  Technology plans will still be required for any school or library that is applying for Priority 2 (Internal connections – wiring and eligible equipment) requests.
  3. With this change in the technology planning requirement, it is even more important that you pick the correct services “bucket” (Telecommunications, Internet Access, Internal Connections, or Basic Maintenance on Internal Connections) when filing for E-rate.
  4.  These changes take effect beginning with the Funding Year 2011 (July 1, 2011 – June 30, 2012).
  5.  Technology plan approval for schools and libraries filing for Priority 2 (Internal Connections) from a Certified Technology Plan Approver, will still be required.
  6. All CIPA requirements still apply.
  7.  Technology Plan requirements have been altered to remove the requirement to have a section on the budget.

 I am truly not a fan of this change. I think having a technology plan was one of the only ways the state was able to enforce the importance of technology in school district. Of course there were issues with the way it was done in the past. Plans weren’t followed. Budgets weren’t funded etc, but it was better than not having a plan at all.

I would highly recommend all districts continue creating technology plans, even if you don’t apply for Priority 2 requests. Technology is an important part of our education system, but it is not the most important part. Districts need to account for the money they spend, and a Technology Plan helps in that accounting process. The plan is not intended to be a static document and can change as the years go by, but hopefully the original direction is still in place, or you’ve at least documented why your direction is now changing.

Technology departments should not be flying by the seat of their pants. If you are, take a few minutes to think about where your district is heading and where it wants to go and how technology can assist in some of those goals. That should write your plan for you. If you don’t know or your district doesn’t know, you best be concerned.


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7 thoughts on “No More Technology Plans!!

  1. I also am not in favor of this change. For planning purposes, it is imperative that districts have an idea of where they are going and how they are going to get there. (funding, support, ect) Do we need an 80 page PDF – no – but the plan has to be streamlined with district goals AND on the radar of our school leaders.

    • They just need a more structured and standardized way of doing it. If everyone uses the same form and you make as much of it multiple choice, as opposed to essay style then it won’t take very long for the state to review and approve.

      Obviously this isn’t the state making this descision on the plan requirement, but I think MN should step up to the plate and say that they will still require a plan for all districts no matter what. I wouldn’t have a problem with that as long as the format makes sense.

      My district will still develop a plan no matter what.

      • I agree with you that any District that is thinking about dropping their Technology Plan is foolish. You have no way of long term budgeting/planning/structuring if there is no long term plan.

        In addition their should be a templated, question/response type of format that is used by all schools through the state. Not the current essay style. It would make much more sense to have something that could be completed electronically, dropped into a data base for evaluation and approved/disapproved promptly.

        Just as long as Pearson isn’t isn’t the one to create the template/form. 🙂

      • I completely agree on all points. Especially the Pearson one… 🙂

        I wouldn’t have a problem with a template based non-essay plan. Maybe someday MN will be organized enough that things like this will be simple.

        That’ll probably happen after I retire in 65 years.

  2. Matt and I know first-hand how difficult it is to go through the Tech Plans to make sure they meet requirements – both of us were part of the team of folks that read and reviewed ten pland each during the last go-around. What amazed me (and Matt as well, I believe) was how poorly the districts did at meeting the requirements. I failed 7 of the 10 Plans that I reviewed! So, the question becomes – at least to me – is the high failure rate due to the old Plan development process being too difficult, or is it because many districts simply try to just “get by” and really aren’t placing enough importance on the Plan in the first place? Maybe the ones that choose to take the easy route do so because they know from past experience that there are no true ramifications to submit a plan that doesn’t meet requirements?

    For the schools that basically go through the motions and simply send something in, it won’t matter much what the requirements are, if they exist at all, if there isn’t anything in place to turn around and say to that district “Hey, sorry, but you have to change some things, and until that time you will not be able to apply for eRate or Telecommunications Dollars” Like I said, I know for a fact that 7 of the 10 districts I reviewed had Plans that should not have been approved. Did MDE still slide those through? Or did they require those districts to make changes? I don’t know, because MDE never provided me any follow up.

    So, I believe strongly in the usefulness of a Technology Plan for districts, and I think some kind of requirement is needed by the State. But that requirement better have some teeth and not be some flabby thing that can be taken advantage of, ortherwise, Tech Plans will eventually go away, because there will be a much weaker argument for spending time on creating and updating them if the requirement isn’t there.

    • Bryan,

      I agree entirely and yes, I was just as surprised as you to have to fail as many schools as I had to. I think I failed 5 of the 10 I reviewed. I think you’re right that a lot of it lies in the “true” imporance the state puts on these plans. I also think, however, that the schools that I had to fail didn’t just miss a small item, it was a big item, such as the budget. That’s a pretty big ticket item when it comes to a technology plan. I think there are some schools that either do not employ a trained IT person or their IT person simply isn’t capable of doing the job of being in charge of technology.

      I’ve found that many schools hired IT Directors/Coordinators that had zero true training or education in technology and then have expected those people to “get up to speed” on these things. Many of these people may be tech savvy, but savvy doesn’t put a good network together. Too many schools treat technology as something less than it is, and they show that by the people they keep on staff in technology and more so the training they provide to those people once they’re in place.

      Loosening the reigns on the Tech Plans will cause many of these schools to continue falling down a path that nobody should go down.

      Let’s not blame entirely the Tech person who wrote the bad plan though. It starts at the top. If the plan was bad and got submitted, it was supposed to be approved by the board and recommended by the superintendent so there are possibly more problems than just at the Tech Level.

      • I should re-iterate, as I don’t know that I got this point across in my last note is that I don’t think a Tech Plan that didn’t pass means the Tech is a bad tech. It does show that there is some lack of either training or knowledge somewhere in that district that would allow a document to get submitted with major items missing such as the budget.

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