Empowering Educators in the K-12 Purchasing Process
As education innovation advances, so does the frustration of all parties involved in K-12 purchasing due to out-of-date processes, poor communication, and difficulties identifying new opportunities. In “The K-12 Purchasing Renaissance,” presented by Nicole Neal, CEO, Noodle Markets, and hosted by Lisa Schmucki, founder and CEO, edWeb.net, Nicole talked about K-12 purchasing, why it matters, and how the purchasing process can be improved.
K-12 purchasing is not just about the purchase of a product, but involves many interactions to get to that decision. “When I think about K-12 purchasing, I’m thinking about all of the things that happen before you get to a point where you award a vendor or select a product,” said Nicole. This could include identifying what’s in the market, finding the right vendors, making sure the product works with the school’s tech stack, being able to evaluate vendors, getting to the best price (although the cheapest isn’t necessarily the best), and then selecting a product and getting it into the hands of teachers and students.
Nicole also shared important lessons she learned from observing the K-12 purchasing process. Many schools and districts are stuck using archaic practices that slow the purchasing process down and make it difficult to get products into the classroom. Nicole stated, “Many of the current state procurement rules and regulations have remained the same for more than two decades. I am sure that the lawmakers of years past did not anticipate that we’d be in the midst of a digital revolution. So requirements like mailing 10 copies of a 100 page RFP remain unchanged.” The K-12 market is also saturated with products and services, often making it difficult for districts to differentiate one product or service from the other. Providing educators with reliable information is key. Teachers, the most important stakeholders, are not heavily involved in the decision-making process. Rather, people who are not currently in the classroom or have never been in the classroom are making many of the buying decisions.
With 1.2 billion dollars spent in K-12 education every day, optimizing spending is crucial. If we don’t improve the purchasing process, we will continue to waste time and money purchasing products that might not even be successful in the classroom. Classrooms will never evolve into “classrooms of the future” if schools don’t have access to the tools they need to find and evaluate new and innovative vendors. Perhaps most important, the achievement gap will continue to increase if teachers don’t have access to the resources they need to help students.
To improve the K-12 purchasing process, we can encourage information exchange by connecting data, people, and channels. We can give teachers a bigger part in decision making by connecting them with administrators, and giving both parties the ability to talk to each other about what works in the classroom. We can build “market networks” that tie stakeholders together to drive data-driven decisions and peer-to-peer connections. Last, by looking at ways to digitize what is currently being done manually, we can use technology to create faster and more efficient purchasing processes to get products into the classroom quicker.
This article was modified and published by eSchool News.
About the Presenter
Nicole Neal is a visionary leader and pioneer at building transformative educational products. As the CEO of Noodle Markets, she leads the company in its mission to enhance efficiency and transparency within the education landscape by revolutionizing K-12 purchasing. Previously, Nicole was the president of the Education Solutions Group at CORE Education Consulting and Solutions, Inc., where she oversaw a staff of 300 and managed a portfolio of formative assessment, intervention, and content solutions for districts and states serving the Pre-K, K-12, employability, special education, and higher education sectors. Nicole also served as the senior vice president of major accounts and state services for Pearson Education, Inc., one of the world’s largest education publishing and technology companies. Prior to Pearson, she served as the senior vice president of client services for Schoolnet, Inc. Nicole holds a BS in computer engineering from Binghamton and an MBA from the University of Maryland University College.
Join the Community
InsideK12: Boost Your K12 Purchasing IQ is a free professional learning community that seeks to empower K-12 stakeholders with knowledge of hidden factors affecting our schools. The community explores buying and acquisition, product efficacy, tech initiatives, and legislation.
About the Sponsor
Noodle Markets is K-12’s national market network. We help districts and schools achieve transparency, speed, and control in K-12 purchasing. The most comprehensive database of education vendors, products, and services empowers research and purchasing confidence. Digital collaboration tools and consistent vendor responses mean easy evaluation in less time. Straightforward data from across your district and a robust pool of K-12 vendors generates increased competition and bottom line savings.