Los Angeles Unified School District’s move to become more digital backfires

December 16, 2013

Businesses are becoming more familiar on the benefits of utilizing electronic data processes, whether it's with a cloud or records management system, but making the switch does not occur overnight. If an organization does not take proper steps to develop a plan that impacts the individuals who are affected by these changes, operations can go terribly wrong.

There is great potential for completing tasks over a secure network. Days of missing paperwork are a thing of the past and improved overall efficiency in the workplace becomes the norm. However, before any department can reap these benefits, a plan has to be established between executives, the CIO and employees.

A short-sighted approach can cost an entity millions. In fact, this type of situation happened at the Los Angeles Unified School District, the Washington Post reported.

LAUSD superintendent John Deasy approved of a $1 billion plan to provide Apple iPads to 65,000 students and teachers so they could learn in a digital environment. Although funding the first phase of the program was covered by the city's construction budget, the district did not take the long-term costs into account.

"[T]he initial deployment of the devices was so botched that the pilot project was put on hold," Larry Cuban, Stanford education professor writes in the Post. "Phase 2 and the eventual distribution of devices to all LAUSD students remains to be decided once errors have been sorted out."

iPads cost about $678 per student, which includes applications and games to enhance the learning experience and a case to protect the device. What Cuban pointed out is that the teachers who had to use these iPads were not a part of the planning process, so they had no say on what programs were used. As the second-largest school district in the United States, the LAUSD's plan was not off to a good start.

Funding for the project grew much faster than expected because the Board of Education didn't consider the cost of hiring technicians, or the fact that these education programs were on a three-year subscription—costing the LAUSD another $60 million.

This is why making the switch toward database management services requires cooperation on all fronts. CEOs and other stakeholders who approve these changes with a blind eye may see a larger loss than they had prepared for. 

Tab Service Company is a Chicago based company with over 53 years of experience as a data processing service provider.  We provide business with outsourcing solutions for document scanning services, data entry services and mailing/lettershop services.  As a SOC2-approved organization, we apply industry-best practices to our approach with clients.