Launching a new school is a challenge unlike any other.
Transportation, food service, student safety, curricular and classroom supply ordering, and school technology: the new school to-do list contains dozens—no, hundreds—of mission-critical items. When students and families arrive on the first day of school, leaders have already devoted thousands of hours to preparing for the new year.
A successful new school launch not only sets the tone for the current academic year, but those that follow as well. Taking the time to establish strong non-instructional systems, a vibrant staff culture, and a laser-like focus on instruction yields tremendous long-term benefits. By contrast, a haphazard or chaotic launch can threaten to undermine the school’s unique mission and, in some cases, diminish classroom instruction. Getting it right takes time—lots of it—but it’s worth it.
An effective school launch goes hand-in-hand with effective school technology.
The same is true for school technology. From projectors, Chromebooks, wireless access points, and staff laptops to SMART boards, telephone systems, and online instructional platforms, so much of what occurs in today’s classrooms is mediated by technology.
From establishing a strong procurement timeline to conducting early troubleshooting to prepare for the first day of school, effective school technology programs start the launch process early, creating clear project plans that ensure teachers, students, and staff have what they need from the beginning. The first step in the process is establishing a relationship with an effective IT service provider. Choosing the right firm can make the difference between a school technology program that’s ancillary to instruction and one that consistently adds value to the classroom experience and school culture more broadly.
At CTS, we leverage our expertise in school technology to execute successful launches.
Our team has worked with more than 60 schools across the United States, and many of our existing partnerships began with new school launches. We have the expertise and track record required to successfully launch, and sustain, new schools.
Each school is unique. We work with our partners to establish a customized roadmap for their school technology needs.
Once we’ve established a partnership with a school, our first step is to understand the team’s unique vision for both school technology and instruction, more broadly. A technology program at an arts-based charter middle school, for example, won’t be identical to the one found at a STEM-focused high school. Each school is unique, so we eschew a cookie-cutter approach in favor of highly customized solutions.
While we may have technology expertise, we also recognize that you’re the expert when it comes to your school’s mission. We allow school leaders to articulate their unique vision for school technology, and we take it from there, creating execution plans to fulfill and build upon leaders’ roadmaps. While some aspects of school technology are shared across sites, our goal is to figure out what additions or changes we can make to the standard model that truly reflect the missions of each of our partner organizations.
Our expertise helps schools navigate facilities challenges that may impact school technology.
As part of the onboarding process, we work closely with our partners to identify and generate solutions to facilities issues facing the school. Perhaps you’re moving into a new building that lacks the requisite wireless infrastructure or you’re concerned about various WiFi “dead zones” near a particular cluster of classrooms. Our national reach and track record have allowed us to quickly diagnose and remedy these and similar facilities challenges.
If a long-term solution doesn’t work with a school’s timeline, we can also recommend short-term fixes that will allow a new school to successfully open. Once leaders have eased into the new year, we can then provide long-term, strategic recommendations that address the issue, all while maintaining service continuity for teachers, students, and families.
We map school technology to your curriculum, adding value to teachers’ instructional practice.
We also firmly believe your school’s technology should be integrated with your instructional model, rather than simply existing alongside it. Our expertise in this area is especially helpful for remote learning efforts where digital lesson plans, video conferencing, and asynchronous learning have become the norm for schools across the country.
When we begin working with school leaders, we ask them how they plan to use technology in their classrooms. Are there specific online instructional platforms at the core of their instructional model? Will teachers make frequent use of SMART boards or projectors to relay academic content? Answering these questions allows us to recommend solutions that add significant value to classroom instruction.
Our full range of technology services ensures our partners have everything they need once students arrive.
In contrast to some school technology firms, CTS offers the full range of services schools need to execute a successful educational technology program. We’re experts in all educational applications for phone / VOIP systems, staff and student devices, PA systems, access control systems, cameras, large space A/V set-ups, video conferencing, and digital signage, just to name a few.
Given our client base, if you have a technology need, chances are that we’ve fulfilled it in the past, but again, that doesn’t mean your school will get the same treatment as another one. Instead, we’ll work with you to consider how our full suite of services complements your unique instructional design and make choices that best align with your vision.
Invest in reliable internet service now so your school is ready for students and staff.
Even the latest-and-greatest devices require access to reliable, secure internet. Here, redundancy is key. The last thing a new school needs is a service outage in the middle of the day or, even worse, in the middle of a teacher’s lesson that relies on online resources.
When we partner with a new school, we establish, from the outset, continuous monitoring protocols that get ahead of any outages and, when necessary, deploy backup systems to ensure that instruction can continue uninterrupted. We also use state-of-the-art heat mapping to ensure every inch of your facility has proper WiFi access.
Ensure your networks have the requisite settings for your student population.
Once your students are online, we also work with several tiers of outside partners to configure firewalls with the K-12 audience in mind. Your network needs guardrails, but it shouldn’t be overly restrictive, often the result of a clunky firewall configuration.
Our content filtering systems not only ensure CIPA compliance, but reassure administrators and families that school devices will only be used for instructional purposes. Your students will be able to use their devices to master academic content, while also remaining safe online.
Resources are limited. We know how to optimize services and costs.
At the end of the day, we realize that many decisions come down to resources. Schools are increasingly asked to stretch each dollar even further. When you need to stock classroom libraries, order additional furniture, and invest in new curriculum, it can be hard to extend the same treatment to other domains like school technology.
Fortunately, we recommend school technology systems that are inexpensive to launch and easy to scale, all while making optimal use of E-rate and other funding sources for new schools. When we recommend products for today, we also have tomorrow in mind: your software and hardware should be able to meet the needs of your school beyond the current academic year.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can new schools participate in the federal E-rate program?
Yes, new schools will have access to the federal E-rate program. Depending on the district, some schools can leverage additional start-up funds to support their launch efforts.
Does a 1:1 student-device ratio make sense for my school?
It depends. If your instructional model relies heavily on asynchronous learning or online platforms, then it may make sense to make an investment early. On the other hand, many newer schools can make use of a single Chromebook cart that travels between classrooms. It all depends on your instructional model and how often you envision students engaging with their devices.
How should I manage my new school’s technology inventory?
First, identify your “golden source” for inventory tracking. Whether it’s a simple spreadsheet or a more complex inventory tracking platform, you’ll want to begin by identifying and regularly monitoring a single database that tracks each of your devices. Whenever a device breaks, goes missing, or is transferred from one student to another, you should update your golden source to ensure you know the status of each and every device at any given time.