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K-12 purchasing

K-12 is undergoing a purchasing renaissance—and it has massive implications for educators

Why teachers and IT need to be part of the quickly evolving 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As education innovation advances, so does the frustration of all parties involved in K-12 purchasing due to out-of-date processes, poor communication, and difficulties identifying new opportunities.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,, Neal discussed not only why K-12 purchasing matters, but how the purchasing process must be improved.

K-12 purchasing is not just about the purchase of a product—it 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 Neal.

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)
  • Selecting a product and getting it into the hands of teachers and students

Changing What’s Antiquated

Rules and Regs

Neal also shared important lessons she learned from observing the K-12 purchasing process. For example, 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.

“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,” explained Neal. “So requirements like mailing 10 copies of a 100 page RFP remain unchanged.”

(Next page: Getting teacher and IT input for K-12 purchasing)

Teacher and IT Input

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  and IT staff, 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 schools and vendors don’t improve the purchasing process, they 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.

How to Improve

To improve the K-12 purchasing process, schools and vendors can encourage information exchange by connecting data, people, and channels.

They can also give teachers and IT a bigger part in decision-making by connecting them with administrators, and giving all parties the ability to talk to each other about what works in the classroom.

Schools and vendors 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, schools and vendors can use technology to create faster and more efficient purchasing processes to get products into the classroom faster.

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 started coding at the age of 11 and 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.

The recording of the edWebinar can be viewed by anyone here.

[Editor’s note: This piece is original content produced by more events here.]

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