Imagine , if you will, the classic heist movie. A collection of thugs pull off a bank robbery and escape with a large but finite amount of cash. One by one the thieves double-cross each other. According to South Carolina Math Standards for 3rd-5th Grade standard 1, C, the thugs realize that if with fewer of them, the fractional slice of the pie will be bigger. The thugs keep double-crossing each other until the detectives apprehend them and the movie ends. That’s how I felt at times working on a grant proposal this week for funds from the Enhancing Education through Technology (E2T2) grant program.
The South Carolina version of this grant has two components – a formula grant where districts can request an apportioned amount of funds, and a competitive grant were qualifying districts can submit proposals for up to $200,000. Unfortunately (or actually fortunately), our district isn’t one that qualifies because it doesn’t have as high a poverty level. One of my good friends is the tech director in a district that does qualify, and he approached me about being a partner in the grant since he and I have similar visions for techology. The only problem is that there are five other districts in our county, and it would be a bad political move not to invite them, too. So now that $200K looks smaller and smaller.
Ultimately two other districts joined our gang. And, no, we never tried to double-cross each other so the slices of pie would be bigger. Yet, the money remains an issue. Grandiose ideas are one thing. However, given the size of the grant, stipulations for what must be done, and other requirements, this runs the risk of becoming an unfunded mandate.
It’s a tricky problem. First we had to keep in mind that this isn’t about the money. There wasn’t enough funding to cover a tech shopping spree. We decided that it had to be an opportunity to further a shared vision. Regardless of the funds, winning the award would give us certain momentum in our districts to push for things that need to be done. We then focus on things that will benefit all of the participating districts – shared expertise, training, staff development, and online resources.
We’ve still got lots of details to work out. With a small amount of funding we have to target a very specific population. Right now we’ve not sure whether we need to focus on media specialists, tech specialists, or the classroom teacher. we tend to go round and round with that argument. However, I think progress is being made. I think the process has been beneficial, and even if we don’t receive the grant funding, I hope we can follow through with some of our proposals. They just make sense.