Article: Saving on Supplies Good

Mar 6, 2019 | Business, Impact

Note: This editorial appeared in the Ruston Daily Leader on March 6, 2019. 

Attending public school may be “free,” but it’s no mystery that there are still expenses involved in ensuring one’s child gets an education.

Thanks to the efforts of a business class at Louisiana Tech, one such expense might soon be greatly reduced.

For a winter quarter project, supply chain professor Kevin Watson asked his 400-level strategic sourcing class to come up with a business plan the Lincoln Parish School Board could use to centralize the purchasing of school supplies for the district’s K-5th grade students.

Using the school supply lists provided by each school, enrollment numbers, benchmark prices from local retailers, and RFQ’s from bulk suppliers, Watson’s class calculated how much the district could save families by buying everyone’s school supplies in bulk to get quantity discounts.

Spoiler alert — it’s a lot.

To actually get the brands and quantities specified on the supply lists, an individual Lincoln Parish family would have to spend $100-$146 per student, based on the class’s pricing of local sellers. Even driving to several stores to find the absolute cheapest goods, the minimum price per student is $86.60.

However, based on quotes from bulk suppliers, Watson’s class estimates that if the school district were to consolidate its purchasing power under one roof, that average cost per student would go down to $46.58.

This would come out to over $94,000 in savings for families of Lincoln Parish, not to mention the time saved by simply paying a supply fee to the district rather than finding school supplies oneself.

Time and money, the two elements that would be greatly saved through this endeavor, are also the two things potentially standing in the way of it being implemented for next school year. But school Superintendent Mike Milstead said he is hopeful the district can find a way to make it work.

The Ruston Daily Leader agrees, and we commend the Louisiana Tech College of Business, Watson, and especially his students for putting in their time, effort and expertise toward coming up with a plan to potentially benefit the community in a big way.

These college students exemplify the good product coming out of our school system: resourceful, knowledgeable people who are willing to think outside the crayon box, if you will, to help others.