It’s no secret that K-12 districts across the country continue to face resource constraints and staffing shortages. In a recent ERP study, 47% of respondents within districts said, “Staffing shortages have hurt our back-office’s ability to adopt and integrate the technology we need.” And the staffing shortages aren’t just teachers. According to a federal survey, 60% of principals struggle to fill non-teaching positions.
These stats won‘t surprise most K-12 professionals. While these challenges are felt across the U.S., many education school and district leaders report that technology helps them devise new ways to address the issues.
Major Resource Constraints and Challenges in K-12 Education
Like many industries, resource constraints can stem from many things, including funding limits, staffing, technology, and increased demand on those already feeling the strain. Below are three of the toughest constraints felt in K-12 education:
- Growing Tech Stack –Technology use by schools grew rapidly in the last few years, yet only 20% of respondents in our recent ERP survey say their solutions are fully integrated across departments. This indicates use of various apps and platforms, presenting training challenges and costly license management and maintenance.
- Increased Workload – Teachers and administrative staff feel more pressure than ever. They need to be experts in their field while applying new technologies required to expand learning, yet they’re held back by outdated manual processes to manage daily work.
- Unpaid Meal Debt – Unpaid meal debt is a growing national crisis, with an estimated debt of $262 million per year. Schools are still trying to figure out how to solve the problem in a post-covid world where free meals for all is no longer an option.
Three Ways K-12 Districts Can Address Resource Constraints with Technology
Fortunately, there are some ways districts can manage through resource constraints without having to make major changes.
- Leverage Existing Technology – Adding a new tool is not always the right answer. In some cases, school districts have access to technology that include features they may not be using. Asking the current provider for a review of features is one way to ensure the tools are being used to the fullest. Additionally, there may be a simple add-on feature or function that would be a minimal cost to activate. And because it’s part of an existing system, it would require less time to implement.
- Get Parents Involved – Ensuring parents are aware of the available tools and are using them is a way the burden can be taken away from the school staff. For instance, if parents are sending cash to school each day for a child’s meal or other fees, encourage them to submit those payments online instead. Make sure the link to your payment portal is easy to find on your website and in school newsletters. The more they can do online, the less time your staff spends collecting and counting cash.
- Reducing Manual Processes – According to our ERP study, only 2% of school districts surveyed said all their back-office processes are automated. While automating everything may be out of reach, implementing simple tools such as fee management can be an easy way to collect funds for things like field trips, library fines, parking permits, and athletic fees. This takes the pressure off teachers and staff alike and greatly reduces time in manual reporting. It also reduces accounting risks and loss of funds.
How Does LINQ Help Solve K-12 Resource Constraints?
One way LINQ is working to solve these challenges is through simple yet highly functional tools. Our payment portal, LINQ Connect, was launched with problem-solving in mind. Because it is part of the LINQ Nutrition platform already used by thousands of districts, user feedback was solicited throughout the development process. The goal: solving pain points and ensuring parents and guardians have an easy way to manage student payments.
LINQ’s head of product development says, “As product creators, we must put ourselves in the mind of someone who is potentially visiting hundreds of sites a day to manage their lives. Whether booking travel, a hair appointment, applying for a job, or paying for a child’s meal, users expect their experience to be easy and quick. We want them to navigate through the system without feeling like it’s a burden. If parents use it frequently because they like it, it’s a win for our school districts. It becomes a way for them to maximize resources and automate processes instead of giving them one more system to support. Our goal is to build products that fit into their ecosystem without added strain.”
How LINQ Customers Can Activate Payments and Fee Management
If you use LINQ Nutrition, you have access to Titan Family Portal—soon to be LINQ Connect—and can work with our client management team to activate payments. And if you’re using LINQ for payments already, there are some added features through Fee Management that will allow you to further merge your tech stack, enabling those in your district to make multiple payments in one place.
LINQ’s mission is to provide expert teams and an integrated platform to maximize the time, money, and potential of the K-12 ecosystem. Purpose-built by K-12 experts for K-12 professionals, we are the leading provider of cloud-based software designed to bring together the best in Education Resource Planning (ERP), nutrition for states and districts, digital automation, workflows, and parent/guardian payment portals.