In 2007, the State of Iowa settled a lawsuit with Microsoft that resulted in Microsoft paying just under $180 million in damages, the bulk of which was earmarked for educational technology. Based upon the terms of the settlement, ADM was eligible to receive funding for use in the DeSoto Intermediate building, most of which was spent prior to my arrival in 2011.
In a bit of a surprise move, the state announced in 2014 that excess funds would result in a second round of funding disbursements, to begin in early 2015. Again, the DeSoto Intermediate building was eligible (but not the other buildings, based upon a complex formula that was part of the settlement), and we will be receiving $64,541.66 based upon the building’s enrollment.
While this is certainly exciting, it is worth noting that – as with most funding sources for schools – this money comes with some pretty substantial caveats. First, only $21,871.31 of the funds are available for hardware or equipment purchases; the remaining $42,670.35 must be spent on software. Achieving this balance between hardware and software spending is difficult, but it’s a challenge that we’re happy to undertake. Second, the funds can only be spent on certain eligible products and services, with the full list available here. Third, the funds have to be tied to a specific Iowa Core-related initiatives; while justifying our technology purposes is not a problem, as we always attempt to invest in technology in a directed and purposeful manner, it adds an additional layer to the process. Finally, as is probably already evident, the funds can only be spent at the DeSoto building. This makes it difficult to use Microsoft Settlement money to supplement district-wide initiatives, or to pay for services that will be offered beyond one building.
We do not yet know on what we’ll be spending these funds, and we’re not actually eligible to incur expenditures until April, but it’s great to know that we have one more resource to help further our investment in educational technologies that we think will be of benefit to our students.