We are an education team recently merged with the corporate IT support. as a county we have 14 secondarys and 84 primarys. We manage nearly all the primarys and half the secondarys in terms of day to day support and all of them in terms of infrastructure (outbound link) support.
We have a number secondarys with the Technology Status (each have about a thousand kids) and their budget is £120k pa EACH purely for IT. We managed to get in early with a few of them with the idea of showing them how to spend their money wisely and that has really worked. we are getting to a stage now where the internal infrastructure (active kit) is bought & paid for with another 3 to 4 years life left and the desktops & servers are on a 3 to 4 year rolling replacement program. Next year a couple of them wont have anything to spend their money on apart from the fun bits (i.e. no bodging or propping up of network, just new toys)
I really feel for Ninjabeaver knowing that is where we have come form 3 to 4 years ago and I know exactly the situation. I suspect Ninjabeaver has a much bigger budget than he realises but he will never see it. I have seen IT budget (Standard Funds Grant for instance) 'redeployed' into other areas (highly illegal but they are their own law in that respect) because the mgmt team dont realise the importance of IT or the fact that they are not running IT in a cost efficient manner. Ironically enough we now have a couple of instances that are completely the reverse, budget from other areas being redeployed to IT because they realise that IT is there to make their workload more manageable. Its our job to make sure it does. If you are able to accomplish this, you budget wont be a problem.
Something that has helped us is giving kit a specific lifetime (3 to 4 years in this case depending on role) and leasing it over three years (Dell seem ok for this). That way they have a planned expenditure over three years. Every year then you get rid of a bit and take on a new bit. Its not a huge expenditure all at once but spread over a time but they need to realise that kit doesnt last forever.
IMHO IT in schools is better funded than most private business but its case of:-
A) Getting you hands on the money
B) Making sure the money is spent as wisely as possible
C) Reducing teacher workloads to guarantee continual spends in IT
and most importantly.......
DONT RESCUE ROPEY KIT.....if you know it on its last legs and you know what the problem is and you know you can fix it...DONT. It is seriously in your best interests to put that doggie down. It surprising where they can pull money from when they have to but if we keep propping it up and putting it back on its feet then they will never put their hands in their pockets to replace it. Firm but fair!