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Guide: District Financing to Scale Blended Learning

Key planning steps, as well as cost drivers and funding levers, for scaling blended learning

Overview

Early data from districts implementing blended learning show the need to identify additional capital for network upgrades and devices in the first year or two, but districts are able to migrate to blended learning models that are sustainable on existing per pupil funding longer term with reasonable funding tradeoffs.

In addition to creating a multi-year budget, districts are also exploring the use of tools to assist with managing spending and doing benchmark comparisons to peer districts to assess potential areas to save on costs. In summary, financing for blended learning will require a shift in spending habits, but many districts are able to sustain costs on existing per pupil funding with scaled implementation.

This guide provides an overview of the importance of creating a multi-year financial plan for scaling blended learning, average cost driver information from various examples, and exemplar funding levers districts are using to pay for this work. This guide provides advice and tools to support leaders in doing the following: 

  • Step 1: Understanding Costs: Estimate the cost to scale blended learning models up front
  • Step 2: Funding Sources, Priorities, and Trade-offs: Identify financial sources, prioritize against other initiatives, and identify decisions that can be made today to help offset implementation costs
  • Step 3: A Multi-Year Budget: Create a budget that serves as a first-year plan, multi-year target, and sets clear expectations for funding
  • Step 4: Plan for Contingency: Develop contingency scenarios in case you do not achieve funding targets and cost reduction measures
  • Step 5: Monitor and Improve: Establish a process for revisiting and updating projections to improve the annual budget cycle

The ultimate goal of this financial planning guide is to help districts create a multi-year budget that captures the costs and key trade-offs needed to scale blended learning to ensure equitable access to high-quality instruction.