Nov 28 2023

Make the Case for IT Managed Services in Your K–12 School

Education IT departments can benefit from managed services. Here’s how they can appeal to administration and leadership.

The most highly sought-after services in K–12 education today represent the staffing gaps in school systems across the country. Full-time cybersecurity professionals are nearly impossible to hire and retain in K–12 organizations due to high demand for these talents and budget constraints. Instructional technology positions are also disappearing, as some district leaders are quick to cut professional development and instructional tech budgets.

A recent report by the Consortium for School Networking highlights these challenges. It’s therefore no surprise that K–12 staffs are seeking managed services to meet their cybersecurity demands, PD needs and network engineering requirements.

However, these IT managed services can also stretch a K–12 budget thin, causing administrators to question such spending. IT leaders from tech directors to CTOs need to know how to make a case to their leadership for smart investments in these services.

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Use Managed IT Services to Support the School’s Biggest Priorities

You can afford anything in education if it’s a priority. The problem is that sometimes communicating the need for managed services is difficult.

Unfortunately, in cybersecurity, the easiest way to show and communicate the importance of services is to suffer through and recover from a ransomware attack. Of course, no school system wants to experience an attack, so IT leaders must find ways to state the importance of cybersecurity expertise as a preventative measure.

With the growing prevalence of artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and physical safety are only becoming more complex. This is true not only in school districts but in every industry. This becomes a double-edged sword for K–12 leaders, who will find it harder to defend their schools from highly sophisticated attacks with limited IT teams and even more limited options for hiring help.

Communicate the Need for IT Services in a Way Admins Understand

There are a few things K–12 IT leaders must keep in mind when communicating these needs to superintendents, school boards and other stakeholders in the district. The first is to put them in terms that district leadership understands. One way to do this is by conveying the risks of being understaffed: It costs a school much more to recover from a cyberattack, for example, than to invest in cybersecurity services.

RELATED: Increase your K–12 organization’s ransomware recovery capability.

Superintendents and administrators don’t know all the technical details of zero-trust implementation, managed detection and response, or data center optimization. However, they don’t need to know the technical aspects to be involved in the conversation. IT leaders should focus on communicating the importance of protections or upgrades to admins.

Involving other key stakeholders can help with this process and break down silos in the school system. This is crucial because so many of K–12 schools’ needs bridge multiple departments. Physical security is no longer the purview of facilities management; it now falls under IT as well. All staff in the building should be trained on emergency response plans, visitor management and other key safety measures.

Working with a partner organization can help IT departments communicate effectively with other members of leadership in the school system. Because partners offer services to multiple districts, they know how to speak with administrators and often have examples they can share.

Ultimately, the best option will vary with each individual district, what its needs are and what it prioritizes. Collaborating with a partner on IT managed services to fill staffing gaps can keep a school up and running.

This article is part of the ConnectIT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #ConnectIT hashtag.

[title]Connect IT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology

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