ABSURD: Why Won’t PB School District Bulk Buy School Supplies?

News Palm Beach County Schools

BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — It is simple math. If you buy 177,000 of something, you’re going to get a much better price than if you buy one. But year after year, superintendent after superintendent, the Palm Beach County School District continues to engage in the bizarre ritual of telling families to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on school supplies. Kyle is buying the same supplies as Ramon who is buying the same supplies as Rachel who is buying the same supplies as Adam. They are all buying these supplies separately. Which means they are paying normal retail price.

Over the next several weeks, parents will be buying paper towels, pencils, paper, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, soap, markers, sharpies, composition books and more.

But if the Palm Beach County School District were to exercise an iota of business intelligence, it would buy everything at once and pass the savings on to every family in the county. There are nearly 177,000 students enrolled in the Palm Beach County School District. Buying 177,000 composition books, for instance, is going to yield a much better price than buying one 177,000 times.

This is the county that spent $5 Million on the bizarrely ineffective iReady diagnostic computer system that is loathed by teachers  — and parents — in South Palm Beach County. The system, created by Curriculum Associates of Massachusetts, has been removed from school districts nationwide, yet Palm Beach County continues to use it to determine if teachers are teaching at the appropriate speed, and if students are learning what the teachers are speed-teaching.

This is clearly faster than having competent administrators personally observe teachers to determine if they’re doing a good job.

How does this relate to school supplies? Simple. It’s all about messaging.

If you took that $5M and bulk purchased paper towels, pencils, paper, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, soap, markers, sharpies, composition books and more, you would send a message to taxpayers that the school district is about making smart financial decisions that benefit everyone. If you spend that $5M on a computer system that is considered to be highly ineffective by many — and takes the teaching out of teaching —  you send the message that you’re running a tax-and-spend district that has no understanding of economics or education.

We call on the Palm Beach County School District, and new superintendent Dr. Donald Fennoy to stop the absurdity of the “back to school supply list” and bulk buy for everyone, district-wide. Need to charge families that can afford it $20 for the year? Go for it. But that $20 is going to go a lot further in a business-to-business setting than it is in a business-to-consumer scenario. Make no mistake, while many in South Palm Beach County have little problem buying school supplies, there are many students throughout Palm Beach County who need help. These kids will be singled out on the first day of school when their table-mate has a full bucket of supplies and they have nothing. That’s not okay. While those students will ultimately be given what they need, why create an scenario that distinguishes the “haves” from the “have nots?”

The Palm Beach County School District could make a smart move and huge difference. Instead of paying for a computer system that stops teachers from teachers, how about taking that money and spending it on the supplies that students and teachers truly need to teach and learn?

And we’re only half kidding when we suggest this: buy everything on Prime Day and have it delivered to each school — in two days — for free.

There are so many options that could save the school district — and parents — money. But true to form, the Palm Beach County School District would rather spend on flash than substance.