The Association of School Business Officials International is helping to launch a coalition that hopes to negotiate reduced prices on bulk goods, and then pass the savings along to public schools and other government agencies.
Officials with ASBO, which is based in Reston, Va., say the plan has the potential to save schools significant money.
Called the U.S. Communities Purchasing & Finance Agency, the coalition was recently formed to help state and local governments get better prices on a wide range of everyday supplies.
The group is also co-sponsored by the National Association of Counties, the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing, the National League of Cities, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Membership in U.S. Communities, as the coalition is known, was offered to ASBO because its founders want schools to benefit from the price breaks. They note that ASBO has worked with founding groups on other projects.
A school or district does not have to be an ASBO member to take advantage of the service.
U.S. Communities allows a range of public entities, including public schools and higher education institutions, to use the organization’s services to buy goods at lower prices. Such goods might include office supplies or furniture, computers, telecommunications equipment, or related products.
David Ritchey, a spokesman for ASBO, said that, currently, schools could receive the best bargains through the coalition on such day-to-day supplies as pencils and paper. Items such as student desks will be added, he said.
“The feedback we got from members was that these were the best prices they had seen,” he said.
The list of available items is generated by the U.S. Communities advisory board, which will recommend products or commodities to be added. The board will solicit proposals from suppliers, with the understanding that other government agencies may get the lower prices through the contracts. The board will award the contracts.
To take advantage of the contract prices, a school can go to the U.S. Communities Web site, www.uscommunities.org, and register. It will receive a catalog of the items available for purchase.
And, as the U.S. Communities coalition grows, organizers say, its bargaining power will also grow, said Steve Swendiman, a managing director of the National Association of Counties’ financial-services center.
A version of this article appeared in the November 13, 2002 edition of Education Week as ASBO Joins Forces To Help Schools Save Money On Supplies