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Explore existing funding models and draft budgetary requirements.


Draft costs and the initial budget should be compiled from accurate, up-to-date data by an experienced person. It should be informed by initial stocktakes/audits undertaken and aligned to developing goals of the LCO. It is important that input from all key participants is included and that it is based on at least a 3 to 5 year plan of expenditure.

Ensure draft budgets scope costs associated with the following:

  • technology (including connectivity)
  • staffing including professional development and support
  • resources
  • facilities
  • professional fees.

Explore the options for financial management: Should finances be run through one of the participating schools? Should a separate bank account be opened? Should a charitable trust be formed?
The investigation of a range of LCO funding models would provide examples of sound financial practice or pitfalls to avoid.

Key people/bodies that need to be involved are: Principals, School BOTs, Ministry of Education, community trusts, local tertiary/ vocational providers, commercial sponsors, telecommunications companies, local bodies, and businesses.

The on-going financial management of the LCO should be the responsibility of a professional with an understanding of both financial and educational backgrounds. Financial processes should be open and transparent to all key stakeholders.

Investigate a wide range of funding sources and make a collective decision about the financial options e.g. Ministry of Education initiatives such as ICTPD funding, community, and commercial options.

It should be recognised that many funding sources are contestable and in the long term not sustainable. Regardless of external funding opportunities which may be useful (particularly in the early development of an LCO), all schools will need to be prepared to contribute funding in the form of staffing and finances to ensure the long term sustainability of an LCO. The return on investment (RoI) would be realised by the economy of scale gained by the full participation of all schools and the benefits gained by their students.


  • Identify person/people with necessary skills and experience to be responsible for finances.
  • Investigate other LCO funding models.
  • Collate information from school/LCO stocktakes and investigations.
  • Draft initial budget.
  • Investigate a range of funding sources.

Supporting Resources

Funding Cluster Leadership: Examples from the VLN

In this illustration, Wayne State University faculty member Michael Barbour describes how clusters would fund the cluster's leadership (i.e., ePrincipal) and appropriately resource the distance teaching responsibilities. His views are based upon a three month tour of New Zealand where he visited nine of the current and emerging e-learning clusters, interviewed dozens of cluster ePrincipals; school Principals and deputy Principals; eTeachers; eDeans, Coordinators, and Facilitators; and students, and observed several video conferencing lessons and tutorials in a variety of subject areas.

In describing the issue of adequately funding the cluster leadership, Michael indicates that the most common model is that each member school contributes an equal amount to pay for the cost of that leadership. On the second issue of how to appropriately resource the distance teaching responsibilities between the member schools, Michael illustrates a model where the requirements to participate in the cluster are beyond the bare minimum of offering a single teacher to teach a single class, but places a limit on the number of students each school can enroll into distance learning based on the number of teachers offered.