Editor’s Note: The following is a news release issued recently by the North Coast Shared Services Alliance. P3 worked with the ESC of Cuyahoga County and NCSSA to deliver this strategic sourcing project for 52 northern Ohio school districts.
To save taxpayer dollars by combining the purchasing power of its members, the North Coast Shared Services Alliance (NCSSA) is changing the way many area school districts buy computer equipment.
“School districts have historically gone into the marketplace on their own or in relatively smaller groups of districts,” ESC of Cuyahoga County Superintendent Dr. Robert Mengerink said in a news release. “Through the North Coast Shared Services Alliance, the Cuyahoga, Medina and Lorain ESCs are bringing together school districts and local governments to the marketplace with their combined purchasing power.”
NCSSA’s members represent 52 northern Ohio school districts and have worked together for nearly a year to create standards for commodity computing hardware like PCs, laptops and tablets. Once each district was on board with a common set of specifications, the Ohio Schools Council ran a competitive process on behalf of NCSSA where vendors were asked for pricing based on the combined number of items needed by all districts. All school districts and local governments that adopt the standard may take advantage of the competitive pricing provided by the bid’s three winners: Open Systems of Cleveland, MNJ Technologies Direct of Twinsburg and Royal Business Equipment of Elyria. Pricing is firm through Sept. 30. Another competition will be conducted in the fall for pricing effective Oct. 1.
“Everyone understands the pressure public school budgets are under,” Mengerink said. “The school districts participating in this process are choosing to collaborate and work smarter to cut costs for taxpayers and keep current technology available to students and teachers.”
Ohio ESCs provide a range of centralized or shared services to their local school district members. The fact that multiple ESCs are collaborating on this purchasing effort — meaning even more districts are working together — is notable among Ohio education administration circles, said Hugh Quill, president of Public Performance Partners, a not-for-profit business that works with public sector organizations throughout Ohio on shared service strategies.
“School districts and local governments are really beginning to understand that they are stronger together, marketplace leverage is enhanced and collaborative purchasing preserves important tax dollars for the classroom and critical public services,” Quill said.
One example of savings is demonstrated by the pricing NCSSA partners receive on a typical workstation. The Hewlett-Packard product districts will be purchasing through the bid retails between $525 and $650. Bid pricing, depending on the number of products purchased, is from $429 to $443.
Mengerink said NCSSA partners will collect data on the usage of the computer hardware contract and use the experience to move on to other commodities and services.
“Key to the long-term success of the purchasing alliance is adoption of the standards and participation,” Mengerink said. To learn more about NCSSA, visit www.northcoastssa.org.