Jan 28 2021

How to Craft a Successful Partnership in K–12 Education

Governments, nonprofits and vendors are teaming up with school districts to expand connectivity for all K–12 students.

In the push to expand reliable networking to underserved students, K–12 school districts need to forge new alliances. Governments, nonprofits and vendors can all work in partnership to expand connectivity.

Teaming Up with Collaboration and Effective Communication

How do they get there? It starts by assigning clear roles.

“In our case, the county is the technical expert, and the district serves as the hub for communications, while the local education foundation coordinates all the funding agencies that want to help,” says Mark Howard, chief of performance accountability at the School District of Palm Beach County in Florida.

Ongoing communication is key to success. In a multiplayer project, “keeping people at the table is important,” Howard says. “The partners come together for weekly meetings for the project team and monthly meetings for the funding team. We have project managers involved and a lot of organizational meetings to keep everyone on track.”

READ MORE: Closing the connectivity gap with expanded, optimized networks.

It also helps to spell out everyone’s obligations in writing.

“You have to put a memorandum of understanding in place that clearly articulates responsibilities, who is going to be responsible for what and what the expectations are for each party,” says Amy McLaughlin, project director for CoSN’s Smart Education Networks by Design (SEND) initiative.

On the vendor side, “it should also cover the response process, so that if you have network problems, you don’t get a whole lot of finger pointing,” she says. “You need a contract that is very clear in terms of limitations, ensuring service prices won’t jump, and especially ensuring that data won’t be misused. You need to know that the data traveling across that network is protected.”

MORE ON EDTECH: How collaboration leads to better remote learning outcomes.

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