Districts in the area covered by the LEARN Regional Educational Service Center in southeastern Connecticut for the past four years have boosted their ability to save money on bulk technology purchases through online reverse auctions. Such auctions are designed so that vendors try to out-lowball one another to get the job in school districts.
Until this year, about 20 districts had participated. Ringleader Gary Mala, previously superintendent of Regional School District 17 in Haddam/Killingworth, Conn., has moved on to become superintendent of Avon Public Schools, outside of LEARN’s service area, and has added Avon and other nearby districts into the mix.
Districts have typically saved 25 percent to nearly 50 percent on various items put out for reverse bid, says Doreen Marvin, director of development for LEARN. “They come up with some baseline specs for hardware and software,” she says, adding that LEARN has not put out a starting bid for each item in the past. “We look at historical prices for the school districts. That’s our baseline.”