Friday, August 10, 2012

Time-Sensitive - Texas State Tech Allotment Urgent News and IMA Funds

Jennifer Bergland, TCEA Director of Governmental Relations - Excellent talk!

Earlier today, I had the opportunity to attend the TASB session on Instructional Materials Allotment (IMA), as well as touch base with Jennifer Bergland, TCEA Director of Govermental Relations. Further below, you'll find my notes, however, here is a time-sensitive announcement from Jennifer worth shouting through a megaphone that every Texas school district should pay attention to:
On May 22, 2012, TEA released a letter that states that all funds left in the Technology Allotment must be spent by August 31, 2012. In the letter it says: "At the end of each school year a 'settle up' was calculated against the new technology allotment that districts were to receive for the next school year. Since the technology allotment was repealed, the Instructional Materials Allotment (IMA) has been identified as the fund source for the 'settle up' calculation." 
When I first read this I misinterpreted and thought it meant that TEA any unspent funds still in your Technology Allotment would be placed in the IMA. That is wrong. If you have any funds left in your district's Technology Allotment, then you need to spend by August 31, 2012, or lose it. Remember, the items purchased with these funds must be in the district by August 31, 2012.
Source:  URGENT: Must spend any Unspent Tech. Allotment now! created by Jennifer Bergland in the TEC-SIG group 2.24 pm edt
 The emphasis that Jennifer has added above highlight that if districts have been hoarding State Technology Allotment funds, they may be in for a shock if they don't spend all that money by August 31st!
John Lopez speaking at TASB today on IMA

Here are my imperfect notes--focused on technology--from the TASB Session:

IMA - The term includes a book; supp materials; a combination of book, workbook supplementary materials; computer software, magnetic media, DVD, CD-ROM, computer courseware, online services or an electronic media or other means of conveying information to the student or otherwise

Each instructional material and technological equipment purchased through the instructional materials allotment is the property of the school district or an open-enrollment charter school. Previously purchased items with statefunds.

All tech equipment purchased with IMA belongs to the District.  

Ownership of electronic or online instructional materials applies only to the extent of any applicable licensing agreement. Keep your inventory and consider these as assets, determining value with business office.

The board of trustees may sell any printed or electronic instructional materials or technological equipment. When you sell tech equipment, money has to be used for allowable instructional materials. Anything purchased prior to the IMA may be done with as the District wishes.

Routers, access points, filtering are allowable for IMA purchase.

Tech Equipment: Calcs, ebook reader, equipment support, learning lab, laptop mobile devices, tablet, whiteboard, workstations, response system. This list will be updated as tech changes.

Tech Services: Contracted services, Prof. Dev, Salary,Shipping Costs. You can pay for conference registration fee (part of Prof Dev). If it's questionable, check with them about it.
 In regards to salary, 3 disbursements are made throughout the year.
Data elements for tech services: service description, audience, qty, unit price, extended amount

IMA Decision Making

*Team will need to determine more than the amount of materials to purchase.
* Involvement of each stakeholders will vary 

*District IM Coordinator
** Access to IMA funds for requisitions and disbursements
**Assist in locating instructional material
**Track instructional materials for accountability

*Technology Directors
Finance Director

Expertise in curriculum and instruction need to be involved. IM must meet TEKS and STAAR.
Keep in the forefront of our mind that instructional materials meet those requirements.

Finance folks will have to monitor IMA funds, ensure that funds are allocated to correct amounts, manage budget, properly record transactions. 

Establish district tech goals for classroom
Determine purchases necessary to meet classroom tech goals
Determine personnel positions necessary.

Teamwork is going to be critical. Teachers use technology to deliver content the way they maybe haven't been able to do that before.
Districts will have to explain to community how/why money is being spent.

Jennifer Bergland - TCEA:
Setting the Vision in the IMA Decision Making Process

  1. Help school districts see what kind of process you can go through before you spend the money.  You have more freedom and flexibility
  2. School shall certify annually to SBOE and COE it provides each student with instructional materials that cover all elements of essential knowledge and skills in all grade
  3. Consult your existing plan:
    1. Review your district's planning documents:
      1. Mission statement
      2. Strategic plan
      3. Tech Plan
      4. Board of Trustees
      5. STaR Chart
      6. Campus improvement Plan
    2. Review State Plans
      1. TASA's Creating a New Vision for Public Education
      2. Texas Long Range Plan for Technology
      3. National Technology Plan. - one of the first plans about teaching and learning using tech to get that done.
    3. Possible Discussion Questions - a one pager is available from TCEA
      1. How is your district going to address the needs of the digital generation?
      2. How can instruction be personalized so that the individual needs, interests, and strengths of your students are accommodated? 
        1. Personalized learning - how are you going to personalize the learning experience for students? It's not just individualizing instruction but also looking at their interests, goals in life, and how you are going to address that. When students feel what they are learning is relevant to them, they are more engaged. For years, we've talked of individualization, differentiation and discovered it's almost impossible. WIth tech, it's no longer a goal or hope that they can do but they can't accomplish...with tech, it's possible. 
      3. How can you take advantage of the vast resources that are available to teachers and students via the internet? You have a whole slew of instructional materials you can access, many of which are free, so how are folks in school districts going to take advantage of those? Teachable moments...the Internet gives us the ability to better seize teachable moments.
      4. How can you use instructional resources to increase the 21st century skills such as collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and problem solving, and media literacy and technology skills? How can these resources help students learn valuable skills they need to compete?
      5. How will you provide teachers and students real time access to meaningful assessment data to better facilitate each student's experience in the learning process? In 10 years, we may be eliminating state assessments because it will be happening as students are learning using technology.
      6. What will students, instruction and teachers in your school district be like in 10 years?
  4. John Bridges (Ft. Bend ISD) - Discussing the Variables (Step 3)
    1. You need to have a team.
    2. Determine your IMA are you going to spend that money? Have a process of elimination and prioritization in place.
    3. Have teachers used a printed book in the past for this subject?
    4. Do we have a sufficient number of books to provide to new students enrolling in district?
    5. Sufficient print books for bilingual students?
    6. Is your district interested in using open-source materials?
    7. What consumables do you requisition from EMAT every year?
    8. Are your online subscriptions being used annually?
    9. Do all students have access to the technology necessary to access the content at school?
    10. Does each school have the bandwidth for all students to access electronic content at the same time?
    11. Is access at school WiFi? 
    12. What are the technical specifications for the devices in order to access the district's electronic instructional materials?
    13. Do you have to install any software?
    14. Does your district let students bring their own device? (iPad, iPhone, tablet)
    15. How is software kept up to date?
    16. How many of your students do NOT have adequate access to a computer/device or the internet at home?
    17. How will the district accommodate those students' needs?
    18. Are your districts's electronic instructional materials accessible from a variety of devices and platforms?
    19. What tech equipment does the district need to support its instructional materials?
    20. What services are needed to support equipment?
    21. Review tech purchases in the last 5 years.  
  5. Budget
    1. as a team, develop a 2 year budget based on identified needs
    2. develop budget codes that allow for each dept/area to monitor its own budget...monitor on a monthly basis.
    3. remember the state-adopted materials ordered through EMAT must be included in your budget
    4. When you are monitoring, make sure to look at transactions on a monthly basis and talk about it. Not only should you be spending the right amount of money but purchasing what you said you were going to purchase.
    5. If I were having team meetings, has something changed? Do we need to make adjustments so we can buy what we need?
    6. Create a standard set of instructional materials for each grade level/subject area
    7. Establish a procedure to handle requests that are outside the scope of the standards.
    8. Review board policies to see if purchases of the instructional materials must go before the board of trustees.
    9. Two other online tutorials: "Senate Bill 6 was a game changer" and "SB 6 for Business Officials" provide further guidance on the purchasing laws and regulations.
    10. Look at local policy and know what the bidding threshold is (such as $5000, which is recommended).
    11. Another tutorial is under development, focused on accounting.  Waiting for interpretations from TEA that focuses on debits/credits. Look for it on the TASB web site.
    12. An issue that comes up--selling excess property (5749 code). There are a lot of materials to do that.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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