K-12 Security & Analytics Education

The True Challenge of School Inventory Audits

June 16, 2021

3 Min Read

As the 2021 school year comes to an end, schools are just beginning the grueling process of collecting staff and student devices for school inventory audits.

This yearly inventory audit is a time-consuming process for staff who are just as eager as their students to begin a long-awaited summer vacation. Schools must manually collect and account for all laptops, tablets, textbooks, and other learning resources. Devices need to be dropped off by students in pick-up zones, tallied, and registered in their asset inventory system. Missing or lost devices need to be accounted for and reported to the school board and the Department of Education (DOE) in preparation for the next school year. 

While the requirements for school inventory audits vary from state to state, they provide an inventory count as well as the age and cost of assets purchased over the school year. This helps a principal know exactly what they need to purchase to keep their technology up-to-date and functional for the next school year. 


The Challenge of School Inventory Audits 

This process is time-consuming and leaves a wide margin for human error. IT asset management teams are already stretched thin managing a larger off-network fleet than ever before as devices were sent home with students for remote and hybrid programs. As a result, hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of student devices are often unreturned, and IT lacks the needed resources to reclaim them. 

If school districts report a substantial number of devices missing to the DOE, it creates budget uncertainty, inadequate technology resources for students, the risk of a data breach, and reputational risk to the district and staff. IT administrators must be able to answer: where are my devices, and how do I get them back? 

 Read: 5 Steps to Streamline Student Device Collection

The True Costs of a Faulty Inventory Audit 

Loss of funding 

With the pivot to remote and hybrid learning models, districts are having a hard time proving that their students are still in the districts. Accuracy of the audit is essential - public school districts get paid per student, so they need to track their student devices and students to ensure students stay within the school district’s boundaries. If students move outside those boundaries, the district could potentially lose that funding. 

Inadequate technology resources for the year ahead 

Without a correct inventory count, school districts may have under- or overutilized resources which will impact available devices for incoming students. What's more, districts will need to replace lost and missing devices, which further impacts their budget. 

Threat of a data breach 

Data breaches put staff and students at risk. K-12 has become a top target for hackers in recent years due to the combination of high-value data available and under-developed cybersecurity strategies. If a student device goes missing and contains personally identifiable information (PII), it creates a risk of non-compliance with FERPA, HIPPA, and GDPR. Furthermore, a recent uptick in ransomware attacks leave school districts unable to function and forced to pay off threat actors. 

Reputational risk to the district and staff 

Lost devices create reputational risk to the school district, for both staff and school board leadership. Leadership is responsible for protecting staff and students; each missing device poses a potential disruption in learning, a risk to the security of the district, and ultimately results in wasted budget. IT leaders are at risk if devices are left unreturned as this reflects gross negligence to the school board. This reputational risk can also have a negative impact on the outcome of potential board and regional elections.  

If your district isn’t running seamless school inventory audits, here’s how we can help. 

Absolute enables districts to easily, quickly, and immediately gather accurate information to prepare evidence for school inventory audits. Absolute provides real-time insights into hardware inventory, as well as visibility into devices that are in and out of compliance. Customers can easily create policies and device groups that align with specific grant requirements, and report on these devices. When it's time for inventory audits, customers can simply filter for specific device groups like class, school, or district and save a huge amount of time gathering essential, otherwise dispersed data. 

With Absolute, school districts get unrivaled visibility and control of their devices throughout the school year. Our streamlined device collection and distribution tools help districts plan, execute, collect, control, and monitor devices remotely, or save time and manpower by outsourcing their device reclamation to our team of specialists with Absolute Device Reclamation-as-a-Service

Set up is seamless and remote – we can help you get started today. So don’t let those pesky end-of-year audits get in your way of enjoying your summer vacation.

Learn how Absolute can help you streamline device collection

K-12 Security & Analytics Education

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