It may sound like a grand statement, but every year that goes by not a single school escapes a certain amount of equipment and supplies that have just 'gone missing'. Some missing items are due to theft but the vast majority are simply items and even furniture that has been borrowed, moved, or mislaid. If most charter schools had a unified tracking system, identifying and arranging for the return of these items would be a simple task. The only question is why modern schools who are updating their classrooms, computer labs, and libraries aren't tracking these new and expensive assets with a unified barcode system. The answer is not one reason, but half a dozen or more involving tradition, budgets, and personal systems. Here are the top five reasons schools aren't investing in asset tracking:
1) How Things Are Done
Charter Schools, even the tech-savvy ones with tablets and touch boards, have a 'way that things are done' that envelopes the entire yearly procedure. From how classrooms are assigned to the distribution of textbooks, wherever an innovation plan has not actively been put into place, tradition rules the day. This allows them to know exactly what to do when dealing with hundreds and even thousands of kids each year, but it can also get procedure stuck in a rut that is not always best for the school.
2) Individual Teacher Systems
Long before RFID and barcode tracking systems, teachers were writing numbers on classroom books and assigning them to students for reading projects. Each teacher has their own personal improvised tracking system that is separate from how other teachers do it, the way the library does it, and the way textbooks are managed. Schools don't think of themselves as not having a tracking system because almost every staff member has their own individual system. It's just not great for tracking items that wander too far from a single classroom.
3) Inefficient Communal Sharing
Charter schools are communal, and teachers do their best to help each other out because it's all about the quality of education for the students. Desks, equipment, and supplies are traded around as-needed but are not always returned to the original set. Some don't get around to it, many forget by the end of the year, and often an item will be traded three or four times before May leaving it almost hopelessly 'untracked' without a unified system to help it get back to the original set.
4) The Back-to-School / End-of-Year Rush
Every year, each school handles hundreds if not thousands of students. Getting them sorted supplied, and into class is an act of incredible coordination and effort and schools like to have this system locked down. Then, getting all their distributed supplies back while managing end of year testing is just as much if not more of a hassle. In short, while the beginning and end of the school year are exactly when they need a tracking system most, schools are also far too busy to consider any change in procedure.
5) Fear of Upgrade Costs
The final reason that most schools don't seek facility-wide upgrades is their fear of exorbitant costs. Schools naturally expand to fill almost any budget by doing their best to provide quality learning experiences for the students, but this also means that their discretionary funds for widespread upgrades tend to be limited. In order for a large change to be made, it must be discussed, planned for, budgeted, and enacted with care so as not to upset the budget for existing programs.
Does your school suffer from asset loss every year? While this may not have seemed like a big deal when it was a few library books and boxes of colored pencils, the more technology we put into the classrooms, the more important it is to have a truly comprehensive asset tracking system. For advice on a complete and affordable tracking system for our school, please contact us today! Our experts will be happy to help you find a solution to your school's yearly missing assets.