Copying and Printing Budgets????

[This post, like all others, contains my own personal views and opinions.  They in no way reflect the opinions of the Minneapolis schools or is a criticism of my district.  Rather it is my forum to challenge the status quo.]

The Minneapolis Star Tribune published this article this morning:
Fight Erupts Over Minneapolis' Schools Bid
Basically, there is a company suing the Minneapolis Schools over the recent contract for copying and printing at the district's two administrative buildings.  There are claims of favoritism.  However, this post is not about the contract.  It is about the fact that my district more than $1 million a year on copying and printing at it's administrative offices.  More than a million dollars.  The cost of a full time teacher, if I recall correctly, is about $88,000 (including benefits).  That's 12 teachers.

One of the comments on the Star Tribune page summed up my feelings: 
This is the 21st century. Why are they spending a million bucks on copying and printing?
Exactly!   But what are some of the options?
  • Have departments use the district wiki server to collaborate on items.
  • Switch the entire district to Google Apps of Education.  Have them share documents that way.  You can publish them so that others can read but not change or publish so that you can collaborate.
  • Use the district Moodle server.
  • Use any number of Web 2.0 tools to replace many of the paper items that are used.
  • Provide mandatory training on paperless tools.
Is this going to cost more money?  I don't think so.  Everyone at the district office has a computer.  We don't need to purchase more technology.  Google Apps is free.  We already have a Moodle server.  We already have a wiki server.  We already have a staff of IT trainers.  We might need to add a few more of these wonderful people, but that is the only expense I can think of.

Lets push the thinking at the a district level.  Model what we are expecting in classrooms.  Money is not something we, as a district can throw around.  We need to be saving more as the district struggles more.  We need to use the resources that we have.  We need to change our thinking.

[I'm assuming that this printing figure is just for internal printing at the district's offices.  Publications to the public, I believe, are printed by an outside agency.] 


  1. Ridiculous isn't it? If we have the resources to do otherwise, why are "we" spending so much on copies? Is there a reason why this thinking is still so foreign? I guess we need to start shouting it from the roof tops!

  2. Ben, you are asking the right questions--please share them with the district's "green initiative" The IT department is creating pilot projects around "document management" (the disputed contract) that should start to lessen the dependence on paper as digital archives are being created. The world is moving in this direction--but it can always use a boost!


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