Providing sufficient broadband and network capacity is the top priority for information technology leaders in K-12 schools, a new survey says.

The 2016 K-12 IT Leadership Survey Report from the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) says that the focus on increasing the capacity to connect with online resources “is a clear indicator that districts, like the general population, are embracing online solutions.”

Respondents to the survey also ranked wireless access and mobile learning as high priorities in their school systems.

The survey also took note of the gap between identifying broadband capacity as a critical need and actually acquiring more bandwidth.

“For the second straight year and for three of the four years this survey has been conducted, “budget constraints and lack of resources” still ranks as the number one challenge to planning and implementing technology-enabled learning environments,” the survey says.

That is especially difficult for small districts, the report says. One respondent comments in the report that small districts “still have to do all the same things that larger school districts do but with fewer people and resources.”

The other top challenges that districts face, the survey says, are silos within districts that hinder communication and cooperation and “lack of vision/support from senior district leadership.”

CoSN conducts the annual survey “to gain insight about the use of technology in K-12 institutions from those charged with managing it.”

Other key findings in the 2016 survey:

  • Privacy and security of student data is an increasing concern; 64 percent of IT leaders say it is more important than last year.
  • Nearly 90 percent of respondents expect their instructional materials to be at least 50 percent digital within the next three years
  • District bans on student personal devices are a thing of the past—only 11 percent have policies banning student-owned devices.
  • The path to IT leadership differs for women and men: 72 percent of women come from education/instructional backgrounds; 54 percent of men come from technology/technical backgrounds.
  • Racial diversity in IT leadership is lacking: 90 percent of school IT leaders are white.