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Budgets and Expenditure Thread, HELP ME convince the governors! in School Administration; Hi guys, To cut a long story short... One of the schools that I visit is in abit of a ...
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    HELP ME convince the governors!

    Hi guys,

    To cut a long story short...
    One of the schools that I visit is in abit of a bad state IT wise. I got fed up with the lack of action by both the head teacher and ICT Coordinator that I conducted my own technical assessment and found that frankly they were very poor with most PCs 6+ years old (as excepted) and the staff generally expecting things NOT TO WORK and seeing IT as a "bother". I showed this to the Head Teacher and ICT Coordinator and they bascially said, "um....right....don't know what all that means...but we will pass it on to the Chair of Governors to have a look"

    The chair came in to see me because all concerned were impressed by the contents of my report and went through my proposals. He said he was shocked at why nothing was done in previous years- I'm not going to start blaming on a public forum, but he said that if he can get the finance committe to agree he can take the money I have requested from Devaulved Capital and I can have my improvements.

    The finance committee is meeting on Monday so I need some strong arguements which he can use to convince them. I am looking for 13K!

    What really annoyed me is that the schools ofsted said that the use of IT in classrooms/generally is poor. So their plan is to buy an Interactive Whiteboard for every classroom as if they are a magic fix - but then what is the point when the class PCs are decrepid old beighg boxes running with Windows 95/98? SmartBoard software will run like **** and then the staff will lose confidence it and that is loads of money wasted.

    Problems (very brief since the report would give a few things away about the school)

    - Obsolete Hardware in need of Refresh
    - Obsolete Curriculum PC Server (9Gb HDD, 128Mb Ram ops: )
    - Lack of Operating System Consistency
    - No Centrally Assigned Computer Security
    - No centralised storage
    - No AntiVirus Software 8O
    - Poor Software Licensing management in the past
    - Slow and Costly Colour Printing in ICT Suite
    - SEN Pupils no support
    - Lack of scope for future development (my other schools are looking into Digital Video/Animation/Video Cenferencing - here they haven't even got 2 PCs with the same word processing package due to dodgy licensing!

    My mini action plan is:

    1. Buy New PCs for Junior IT Suite
    2. Buy New Server for IT Suite
    3. Upgrade and repair old PCs in Junior IT Suite and place in Classrooms
    4. Deploy Windows XP on all curriculum PCs
    5. Setup Old Server as WSUS or Mail Server
    6. Dispose of old classroom PCs beyond useful life or economic repair. Any machines that are still useful to be cleaned up, upgraded to Windows XP, converted to Server clients and placed back into classrooms

    What good arguements can he use to help me get my 13K from the finance people? Will these people care about benefits like PCs that work, sharing of work, shared calanders, proper user tracking, etc or will cold hard cash be what they are most interested in?

    Any thing general even that I could adapt is fine... I want to paint the image that the the school is falling behind unless they act which is true.

    Thanks,
    CM786

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    StewartKnight's Avatar
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    Re: HELP ME convince the governors!

    an often quoted saying is "microsoft don't support Windows 98 anymore, so neither do I"

    Well, that sort of thing anyway!

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    Re: HELP ME convince the governors!

    I would start with the most simple things - forget the shared calendars and the fancy bits.

    I'd go with the cold hard approach: "if you don't invest in the ICT in this school, the whiteboards will be rendered useless as you will have nothing to run them".

    Start at the bottom - get the teachers interested in ICT again - get them using machines for presentations and classroom demonstrations.

    I'd tell them that their server's on its last legs (even if it isn't) and won't manage another school year in the state its in. If you have another school that's a year or so down the line from this one (with what you want to achieve already working in the 2nd school), arrange to take them around and give them a demo of the stuff working.

    At the end of the day they'll only care about the cold hard cash, but the trick is to convince them that it'll pay for itself in the long run. If you can ask for money to invest in new printers, perhaps with management software, for example - you then have a good foot in with the "this will pay for itself in terms of money saved against the current printing mechanism within X years" (you'll have to work out the cost per page of the current stuff and paper wasted against the costs of new printers, their cost per page etc). It might be worth going down that route..

    What about hardware issues... things are going to be dying on 6yr old PCs and servers.. it's going to get costly repairing them, not even taking into consideration your time doing it, and the time wasted with people off of the network whilst it's done.

    Then, as a last taster - chuck the shared calendars and development opportunities in - get them interested in investing first, and then tell them where things can go... what about

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    Re: HELP ME convince the governors!

    Quote Originally Posted by indiegirl

    I'd tell them that their server's on its last legs (even if it isn't) and won't manage another school year in the state its in.
    That made me chuckle - all the server does is hold the files for a peice of software called Smart Learning - THATS IT! So imagine the school with about 80 PCs and no centralised DC way of locking them down/no shared storage/no decent reliable printers and a technican (me!) that is only in for two half days a week.

    I have another school where the environment is totally different and staff members enjoy using their PCs and thats because my ideas for hardware upgrading/general things have been taken onboard. I would love to show them round the school. Then recenlty got "out standing" from Ofsted for their ICT and the head/ICT Coordinator have said I was a big part of this ( (Swells big head back down!)). I want to do the same at this other school now.

    I need a finance head on! Could say that if the existing PCs stay in place then they won't even be worth using with low-end task and it would cost us to get rid of them? £50 per PC sounds right... The printer sells its self.... can play up the virues doing the rounds too.....god I feel like a cheap sales man . shouldn't really have to resort to this, but the head and ICT Coordinator are not very "IT"...lol

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    Re: HELP ME convince the governors!

    My approach would be to convince them of the benefits of longer term planning, as well as the quick injection of 13k now, put together a 3 or 5 year strategy following hte adive of Becta and make sure you will have a budget in the future- otherwise you'll be in the same situation a few yrs time.
    If you get the money now it will only be temporary, A longer term investment approach is needed for sustainability.
    You might not need to ditch all those old pc's - consider thin clients and open source - this will dramatically reduce your costs and improve reliability. We still had 6-7 yr old pc's and students can still run the latest software without expensive upgrades.

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    Re: HELP ME convince the governors!

    CM786 you say that you manage other primary schools?
    well take the best one and give the governors an invitation to visit this school and see for themselves what can be done with ICT in primary with just a little injection of cash as opposed to what their school has now and this in my eyes would sell the whole issue. They would probably release more than 13k...............Good luck

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    Re: HELP ME convince the governors!

    Be carefull with words.

    Spend = BAD, invest = GOOD
    Might break = BAD, increased reliability=GOOD.

    However, avoid psudo buisiness w@nk words like the plague. Anyone not sucked in by the "American Way" will either hate them, or just glaze over and not care.

    If it were me, I'd be going the Indiegirl route and taking them down the road to show them what could be done with some "investment"!

    Have fun :-)

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    Re: HELP ME convince the governors!

    You should also push home that you have a 'duty of care' within the school and that you need to be able to monitor (and protect) the little darlings in some weay. Simple lock-down policies to prevent them straying and the like.

    You also need to push home about backup and archiving. These are necessities and your LEA will get most upset if you do not make a 'best effort' approach to implementing these.

    You should also explain how a consistent look to all the computers makes teaching easier and helps the darlings improve their skills more quickly - imagine the icons moving around from lesson to lesson!

    Give several options to the committee - outrageously expoensive (the ideal solution), a slightly less expensive solution and a bare minimum (i.e. what you want to put in ).

    You should also look into the possibility of buying good quality second user equipment as this can save a packet. 1st Technologies in Ribchester (01254 878800) can sort you out. For instance high spec Dell machines for £200 as opposed to £400 - plus still warranted.

    Also push for efficient printing solutions using high vouilme laser printers (e.g. second-user HP LaserJet 4050tn for £150) or using the networking capacity of your photocopier(s). I would suggest steering them away from colour printing if budgets are tight... explaining that it costs 10x as much to print in colour than in black and white (in ink costs alone).

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    Re: HELP ME convince the governors!

    Quote Originally Posted by CM786
    ...if the existing PCs stay in place then they won't even be worth using with low-end task and it would cost us to get rid of them? £50 per PC sounds right...
    Oh.. at *least* "£50" with WEEE directives... :P

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    Re: HELP ME convince the governors!

    From all the great advice its obvious that this kind of situation is not uncommon.

    Some absolutely brillant ideas. The only issue with showing them other schools is time. The school closes in about 3 weeks, and I REALLY need to get stuff ordered and delivered asap because nobody is in the office during the summer and I don't usually work during the summer hols, but obviously with this amount of work to do I will have to.

    I love the idea about duty of care, disposal costs, and INVESTING (not buying )

    I am not wasting any PCs (all decent PCs being upgraded to 512Mb), but with some of the really bad ones a Thin Client is a great idea - however I would need time to look into this properly and don't think I will get this setup for September.

    I have suggested saving about £2k in licensing using OpenOffice.org, but teachers are not keen and niether is the chair of governors - even though I showed them OpenOffice opening Office documents. Can't blame them really I suppose.

    Do Becta have some kind of minimum spec for PCs? Would be good to shock them!

    Thanks for everything, I'll get some ideas over the weekend and I will report back on Tuesday with the result.

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    Re: HELP ME convince the governors!

    Quote Originally Posted by CM786
    So imagine the school with about 80 PCs and no centralised DC way of locking them down/no shared storage/no decent reliable printers and a technican (me!) that is only in for two half days a week.
    Welcome to my world!

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    Re: HELP ME convince the governors!

    You might like to lean on the backup situation as it sounds like they probably don't have one!

    If you can show them roughly how your time is spent firefighting with their current setup (e.g. 20% of your time redeploying broken apps due to lack of security / 25% of your time trying to get current software working on unsupported OSes or outmoded hardware) that might be good. Then highlight the things from the other school that you would have time to bring in.

    If you're after money, I'd say the most important thing to impress on them is that IT investment has to be part of a continual program - that doesn't necessarily mean it'll cost a fortune, but spending a lump sum once then sitting back will do them no favours.

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    mark's Avatar
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    Re: HELP ME convince the governors!

    I'd mention the ability to fullfill requirements of Ofsted etc., linked directly to the investment.

    You're not mucking around here, we're talking meeting the requiremnets so that the school can meet it's obligations. You're not talking wasting money, but achieving what is required as a minimum at the best possible price, because you're the expert who knows how to do that.

    Maybe give them choices, of some more expensive options, trashing all old stock and replacing with new. Minimum requirements of the software you need to do the job define the hardware - if they need to deliver office apps, and they choose MS Office, then you have to spec to that requirement - they've made that choice already, so that's what you build on.

    If I were them, I think I'd really appreciate a full breakdown of the finances and your reasoning/preferences. I had a meeting with the finance committee members of the Governors for a big spend, and that was thier feedback - they're happy if it's presented clearly and it looks like you've done a good job.

    I think you're on to a winner.

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    Re: HELP ME convince the governors!

    Do Becta have some kind of minimum spec for PCs? Would be good to shock them!
    I don't know about becta, but I know that ofsted will not count computers over a certain age (5, sticks in my head but it might be something airy fairy like 'must run current curriculum software') in their pupil to computer ratio, which is 1:8 for primary ( see here ) Infact, I heard of a head teacher who had to have a pretty stern argument with his inspector because he refused to count their old PCs in the quota even though they had new motherboards. The head won in the end but it was close!

    I'm glad you're not throwing good computers away. I've upgraded all of our old pcs to 256mb+ ram, and for the ict suite and interactive whiteboards, put in a new motherboard. You can get amd 2.6 with 512mb ram, all onboard, for £100! - the only thing you need to be wairy of is getting the right psu. If you have RM pcs, the only place that I can find that did the right size was OcUk and their service is rubbish.
    We also installed a wireless network and upgraded everything to windows xp. Now we have a consistant front end across the school and ICT is really used. We did all of this BEFORE putting in whiteboards.
    Why not suggest they lease whiteboards next year - then they can have their cake and eat it?

    EDIT: And don't even try running a smartboard on an old PC. I tested it on our oldest (p450 - p700) and thought I could get away with it, until you try using the rubber! It's hillarious - the whiteboard lagged a good 5-10 seconds behind the actual rubber. I'd say the slowest you could reasonably teach with is a 1.2ghz (my current slowest), but we have 2ghz + and even that can be a bit sluggish when you've got a lot on screen.

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    mark's Avatar
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    Re: HELP ME convince the governors!

    May be overkill but the investment planner is good: http://schools.becta.org.uk/index.ph...u_03&rid=10964

    I've seen 'Becta approved' on projectors, there must be specs for PCs too i'd presume.

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