Faced with tight budgets, some innovative school districts and other public institutions are turning to an unusual source to raise some extra money: the online auction house eBay Inc., the world's largest auctioneer.

Unloading everything from vacant buildings to old buses and even fire trucks, schools and other municipalities have found that the internet greatly increases the number of potential buyers who can bid on used equipment and—in some cases—is more cost-effective than holding a local charity auction.

"Either individuals associated with schools or individuals employed by schools have told


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