Howard County ‘School Swap’ Initiative Saves $260,000

A School Swap initiative has allowed the Howard County Public School System to cut spending for new materials, equipment, and furniture, according to continuous improvement specialist Teri Dennison, who said the county has saved an estimated $260,000 over the last three years.

The Baltimore Sun reports,

Since its debut in the 2014-2015 school year, more than 1,700 items have “swapped” locations, finding a new use at schools or school offices. Schools and offices work together to find a space for surplus school resources and furniture, which is available at no cost.

Dennison said she was assigned to program improvements at the logistics center in 2014, when she noticed the school system’s warehouse was filled with unused items, including desks, tables, chairs, cabinets and shelving.

“They would either be recycled or sold as public surplus and very little got back into the schools,” she said. “My parents were Depression-era people, so we always thought you have to use what you have or find a place for it where it can be reused.”

After conversations with the chief of accountability, director of purchasing and web team, Dennison helped develop a hub on the Howard County public schools’ website, where teachers, faculty, staff and administrators could search for materials and furniture they needed.

To inform others of unwanted materials, staff can post items on the school system’s website, where they can be claimed by other schools and offices at no cost.

Technology items that have memory cards are not available through the site, Dennison said, but are handled by the technology department. Warehouse truck drivers often decide what items are salvageable, sometimes breaking down tables to reuse the tabletop or legs.

As the initiative continues to grow across the school system, Dennison said she hopes to see similar efforts in neighboring counties and perhaps a larger swap between school systems.

“I’m feeling extremely excited about it,” Dennison said.

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