It’s the holiday season and although it seems that spring is far away, it’s really just around the corner. Spring represents beauty, renewal and new life, however, to a school district, spring also means it’s budgeting season for the next school year.
Different schools budget differently, however, the general equation remains the same; money in vs. money out, and how to meet the district’s needs on what is generally never enough money. While teachers may not sign big POs are make district or school-wide purchases personally, they do have influence on purchasing decisions when it comes to curriculum and the other materials they use in the classroom.
No other person in a school district has more face time with a student than a teacher. No one. Because of this, teachers’ suggestions on how to better the learning experience are listened to. Teachers tend to voice their ideas and needs directly to school administration as well through requests put together by their departments.
A school budget, like any budget, isn’t able to include every want from every educator. Far too often the “extras” don’t make it into school budgets. However, when administrators are making those hard decisions about what can be purchased and what can’t, they take the recommendations of teachers seriously, knowing that they are on the front line of understanding what would be the most efficient and effective curriculum or supplies to make their students’ day-to-day experience in the classroom a success.
Budgets can only stretch so far. So, when a teacher is passionate about obtaining something for her classroom that isn’t included in the budget, she often explores alternatives. These alternatives often come in the form of grants. Many teachers have become pros at using crowd sourcing platforms such as GoFundMe and Donors Choose where a teacher can initiate his own grant, leveraging personal connections to help fund a particular item, or experience. Many nonprofit and for-profit organizations offer grants to teachers to fund specific programs like makerspaces or initiatives like a field trip. Fundraising through a school’s PTA/PTO often supports major purchases, such as sports equipment and even technology, not included in the school budget.
Education businesses are all too familiar with shortages in school budgets. While most negotiations for large contracts occur with district and school administrators, businesses shouldn’t ignore the role teachers play in purchasing. If you ignore teachers in your marketing efforts they are less likely to know about your products and therefore not likely to add them to their wish lists or advocate for their purchase with their administration. Additionally, you never know if a teacher has a grant she can use to make a purchase, has raised thousands of dollars through crowdsourcing, or is working with the PTA to fund a big purchase. Teachers are most often the end-users of your products so enlisting their help in advocating for those products with the ultimate decision-makers is a wise strategy.
Now and into the new year is the time to introduce your solutions to teachers so that they are informed as they and their administration head into the spring budgeting season. Marketing activities such as webinars, success stories and videos that demonstrate how your product solves problems teachers are tackling in the classroom are helpful resources. You want to make sure you’re on teachers’ radars now so that you end up on their wish lists this spring.