The following 10 conditions represent those technology problems most commonly encountered by school districts and county offices of education. The presence of any one condition is not necessarily an indication of trouble. Unavoidable short-term situations such as key personnel vacancies can result in brief and acceptable periods of exposure to one or more of the following categories. Exceeding acceptable limits of exposure in one or more of the following categories is often the blueprint for districts approaching or currently experiencing a technology crisis. More detailed information on individual items within this Top 10 list will be provided within future DataBus issues.


1. Ineffective Leadership

•   Recruiting difficult

•   Ineffective or no supervision

•   No vision for how technology will improve education of students

•   No definition of annual goals and objectives for technology staff

•   No expression or marketing of technology vision

•   Lack of understanding of primacy of educational purpose

•   Inadequate attention to system life cycles

•   Ineffective Organizational Structure

•   Split admin and instructional technology

•   No Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) for electronic resources

•   No annual evaluations of technology support staff


2. Ineffective Communication

•   No regular staff meetings

•   Inadequate interdepartmental communication

•   Inadequate site communication

•   Out-of-touch with needs of instructional staff

•   Lack of IT advocacy at cabinet level

•   Staff unrest and morale issues

•   Ineffective workflow

•   No help desk or central contact number

•   Users don’t understand pressures of IT support


3. Difficulty Establishing Priorities

•   Multiple simultaneous rollouts

•   Missed due dates and cost overruns

•   Shortening implementation time lines

•   Increasing project complexity

•   Project creep


4. Inadequate Funding

•   Limited resources

•   Insufficient funding to offset total cost of ownership

•   Lack of partnering efforts

•   Lack of application efforts (DHS, E-rate, CENIC/DCP, other grants)


5. Inadequate Staff Development

•   Lack of continuing education for IS staff

•   Lack of instructional staff development

•   Inadequate instructional technology infusion

•   Lack of professional development for district staff

•   Inadequate training facilities


6. Ineffective Support Mechanism

•   Poor service orientation

•   Unmotivated staff

•   Staff don’t understand basic mission (education of students)

•   Lack of supervision over technology support staff activities

•   Unacceptably long support response times

•   Unresolved support requests

•   Shortage of staff to support infrastructure

•   Excessive equipment repair turnaround time

•   No planned equipment replacement strategy

•   No equipment donation policy

•   No obsolete equipment disposal policy

•   Out-of-date minimum hardware and software standards

•   Burnout from 60-65 hour weeks


7. Different Levels of Infrastructure

•   Problems infusing technology into older school sites

•   Disparity of technology infrastructure in old versus new school sites

•   Proliferation of obsolete technology

•   Legacy hardware and software


8. No Distributed Access

•   Limited access to timely personnel, payroll, and budget control data and reports

•   Inadequate communications systems

•   Lack of e-mail access

•   Lack of Internet access

•   Failure to file E-rate telecommunications funding claims


9. Network Performance, Reliability,
 and Security Concerns

•   Network resources configured poorly

•   Lack of proper network segmentation

•   Lack of efficient access list and routing tables

•   Lack of proper backup procedures

•   Lack of disaster recovery procedures

•   Server software patches not applied consistently

•   Excessive network downtime

•   Lack of or excessive concern for network security


10. Platform Wars and Territorialism

•   Macintosh versus PC

•   Microsoft NT versus Novell NetWare

•   Instructional versus administrative technology turf battles


Andrew Prestage

Director, Technology

Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team