A common assumption about education purchasing is that teachers are not influencers in the process. This may have been true at one time but that practice is changing. More teachers are getting involved in the recommendation of instructional materials for their schools.
When Ventura Unified School District adopted a new science curriculum, it started with a teacher on special assignment. “He was really the one architect behind this,” Matt Almaraz recalls. “He had a team of science teachers not only looking at the curriculum but using it in some of their classrooms to test out, to see how the students did. And obviously the parents were involved in looking at this.”
Don’t disregard the teacher voice as being influential in the purchase process, says SmartBrief Education Editorial Director Kanoe Namahoe.
“Teachers are the day-to-day practitioners. Cultivate these relationships,” Namahoe advises.
“If they like your product or tool, they will be an enthusiastic ambassador for it to their peers and leadership.”
Understand procurement priorities related to COVID-19 relief
Procurement has an additional layer of complexity during “stimulus years.” The American Rescue Plan Act has focused districts on re-opening and addressing learning loss since 20% of the funds are allocated specifically for those activities.
“The Department released two-thirds of the funds to states and are holding back the additional one-third until states submit the plans they are developing and implementing for using the ARP’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund to safely reopen schools and meet the needs of students,” explains Susan Gentz, a K20Connect partner. “This means that districts will be focusing on summer enrichment programs now. This is not a typical year, so the cycle looks different. Districts also spend most of their professional development funds in the summer.”
COVID-19-related purchase priorities include:
- In addition to refilling standard personal protective equipment and mass hand sanitizers, districts are stocking up on masks required for COVID-19-safe instruction, such as masks that have an opening so band members can play or that are clear students can see how a vowel was formed or enable lip-reading for deaf students.
- Replacement devices that suffered from everyday use, such as iPads and Chromebooks.
- Operations services, such as HVAC inspections to make sure systems are running smoothly.
- Infrastructure improvements, particularly ventilation.
- Summer school and after-school programs to address learning loss.
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