A Month-to-Month Guide for Understanding the School Market
Businesses use a fiscal year, but education revolves around the school’s academic calendar. The school year differs from any other sector’s calendar.
The academic calendar has a huge impact on educators’ lives. Businesses operate on a fiscal year that runs from January to December. However, for most educators, the year begins in August. Classes wind down in May, and educators spend June and July attending professional development to prepare for the upcoming academic year.
When they approach educators, vendors who don’t understand the school year cycle and resulting purchasing process can feel like outsiders. It’s not that educators and administrators aren’t interested in your product. You may have pitched your product at a busy time in the cycle.
Here’s a snapshot of a typical school year as it evolves from month to month:
· August: The campus principals often return during the last week in July, and educators arrive in August. In a push to prepare for learners, they attend district and campus professional development meetings, prepare their classrooms, and plan for the first six weeks.
· September: Districts that did not start in August begin now. Educators are learning new software programs. If you have not already approached a district or school about your education technology product, now’s the time. In addition, the budget opens, and schools can start spending their money.
· October: The second grading cycle has begun, and educators feel like they know their learners. They are learning new programs, and educators are busy with data reviews. This is also the one month in the academic calendar without a holiday, so some educators begin to feel weary as Halloween approaches.
· November: Now you have a window to approach schools at the beginning of the month, but the week before Thanksgiving is busy. Educators and administrators don’t have time to visit companies.
· December: With less than weeks until winter break and big holidays ahead, educators have their hands full finishing the semester and maintaining discipline and decorum. No new PD takes place at this time. Education administrators are planning ahead for the spring semester.
· January: The second semester begins, and educators bring renewed energy. It’s a good time to showcase your education technology product or offer PD.
· February: Continued optimism makes this a good month to approach schools and districts. Most educators are already looking ahead to the new school year. They are formalizing new budgets.
· March: Many schools take off a week for the Spring Break holiday. State assessment begins in some areas, and no one meets with vendors during assessments. You can still pitch your product, but remember, schools are busy.
· April: State testing often continues this month. Most districts encourage campuses to spend their remaining money. Their funding was generated by this year’s learners, so it must be spent. The central office administration collects any unspent funds to support summer programs.
· May: State testing is finalized, and then schools prepare for closing out the year.
The calendar may differ for schools and districts around the country, especially if they operate on quarters or year-round. Ask school leaders and educators for the best time to contact them.
Education technology is revamping how schools teach. In turn, schools are revamping the education technology business calendar. By being in sync with the academic calendar, you will be more likely to market successfully and make a difference in instruction.