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Schools to use power of collective purchasing
Written by Mark Lineberger   
Wednesday, 17 October 2007 13:35

The Camp Verde Unified School District is joining a cooperative of schools that translates strength in numbers into getting more technology bang for their buck.

The school board voted last week to join the Education Technology Consortium, an assortment of school districts and nonprofit groups organized through Northern Arizona University to help provide a wide variety of services to members, from financial to technological.

It’s the latter that interests CVUSD Superintendent Jeff Van Handel.
“They can provide the tools and experience very quickly and efficiently,” Van Handel said. “It’s much more cost-effective.”

For an annual membership fee of $500, the school district will be able to use the ETC technical support staff to handle issues ranging from networking to the phone system.

Van Handel told the board that the schools would use in-house employees if it could, but there are some technological issues where the district is “lacking the level of expertise” required to be effective.

There are extra costs beyond the $500 annual fee, Van Handel said. They depend on what services are used, but using the ETC would still be more economical in many cases.

Using support staff only when needed instead of keeping them on the payroll puts much less of a strain on school pocketbooks, said Tracy Banfield, ETC director of school services.

“We’re able to provide many benefits, particularly to smaller school districts,” Banfield said.

The ETC is able to further defray costs through collective purchasing agreements.

“If we’re buying software that will be used by several school districts, we can get a discount for volume buying,” Banfield said.

The ETC was originally founded in 1974 as the Arizona Public Schools’ Computer Consortium, according to the group’s Web site, but changed its name in 2005 after expanding services into New Mexico.

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