Tired of lost books and antiquated faxes, two districts opt for 21st century asset management
Two years ago Consolidated Unit School District 300 in Algonquin, Ill., was facing a pretty daunting challenge across its 26 schools. When it came to recording the inventory of assets like textbooks, some of the district’s numbers were incorrect. “We’d start a new school year thinking that we had the appropriate supplies for our students, only to find out that our inventory system didn’t reflect what we actually had on hand,” said Susan Harkin, chief operating officer for the 26-school, 21,000-student district.
A student who wasn’t matched up with an algebra book, for example, would often have to wait a week or two for it to be ordered and delivered to the classroom. And for some of the outdated books that are no longer being published, the district could spend months trying to hunt down the textbooks. “Students would start the school year without a textbook to refer to for homework,” said Harkin. “It wasn’t a good situation for a district that’s focused on student success.”
Harkin says the schools’ curriculum and instructional personnel were particularly concerned about the gaps that existed between the inventory system and the actual inventory. At the time, D300 was most concerned about textbooks, although it also wanted to improve the tracking of district-owned assets such as tablet computers and musical instruments.
Finances were another driver, says Harkin, who notes that her district spends $2,500 less than the state average per student. “Assets and resources are tight,” she added, “so everyone wants to do his or her part in helping to make sure we’re using our resources efficiently and effectively.”