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Guide: Transformative Budgeting for Digital Learning

A resource from the NJ Department of Education to support financial-decision making for digital learning


This guide intended to assist districts in rethinking traditional budgetary approaches in order to find possible ways to fund technology initiatives by repurposing existing funding sources. The paper offers step-by-step advice through investigation, planning, and implementation, as well as numerous district case studies.

The authors outline three key strategies essential to supporting the process:

  1. Alignment of technology expenditures with the goals in strategic plans
  2. Creation of cross-functional budget leadership team that brings together finance, technology, curriculum and instruction, and
  3. Transformative zero-based budgeting, which they define as "a process through which education leaders begin each budget cycle at zero in each category, and then add costs to the budget only when there is evidence that such costs are required to meet goals."

The paper also includes 11 case studies from districts across the United States, advice on funding sources, and tools from other organizations such as the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), Annenberg Institute, the School Superintendents Association (AASA), Project Red, and the Alliance for Excellent Education.