For school districts in which parents want a stronger voice in prioritizing pandemic-related stimulus funds, technology can play an important role in communication and dialogue, which ultimately makes for better decisions. According to a poll conducted last fall by the National Parents Union, 51 percent of 1,006 parents surveyed said they should be included in the decision-making process that determines how federal funding is spent to address pandemic-related challenges.1 The same percentage of respondents felt they knew “not much/nothing at all” about plans for those funds, while just 13 percent said they have heard a lot, indicating a need for further education in the community.
At the same time, the pandemic has accelerated the use of online civic engagement tools to help foster conversations about government and school budgets in accessible and constructive ways. In addition to—or rather than, in some cases—attending a public meeting, parents can use their smartphones or other connected devices to provide input via online software and do it on their own time, at their convenience. COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing measures have also increased acceptance of online civic engagement practices and increased comfort levels with online software and meeting technologies.