How these 19 districts strike better deals on tech, together

By Bridget McCrea
June 10th, 2015

19 Appalachian districts form one powerful cooperative. Small districts: take notice.

cooperative-togetherIt’s been 40 years since a group of 10 school districts across southeastern Kentucky banded together to gain economies of scale when purchasing goods and services. Calling themselves the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative (KVEC), the pioneering group probably had no idea that their early efforts would eventually parlay into an initiative that’s largely focused on helping rural Kentucky schools gain access to technology and use it successfully in the educational setting.

“Initially, KVEC was formed to help schools more easily and efficiently purchase supplies and services (i.e., driver’s education),” says Dessie Bowling, associate director for the Hazard, Ken.-based cooperative. During the last four decades, that focus has shifted and now aligns with Kentucky’s overall goal of staying on the leading edge of both classroom technology and IT infrastructure management.

“Over the last five years, our state has done a very good job of leading the rest of the country in its approach to K-12 education and the use of technology,” points out Jeff Hawkins, KVEC’s executive director. Collectively, “our use of technology has really blossomed, because we realize that that is the way to increase curricular and learning opportunities for students.”

Next page: How to govern the cooperative