When schools went virtual in the spring of 2020 and public sector budgets started getting slashed, many assumed that procurement activities would come to a near stop. Yet, the exact opposite happened. K-12 districts across the U.S., scrambling to shift their education models, started searching for technologies to keep students and teachers connected. In fact, $35.8 billion was spent last year alone on hardware, software, curriculum resources and networks. That’s a 20% increase from the previous year.
Fast forward to now, and you’ll find the buying power of many districts getting a significant boost as schools begin to implement hybrid programs that can support both online and in-person options long term.
Distance learners need more user-friendly platforms through which to interact with teachers and peers in the classroom. Teachers need better communications technologies. Everyone needs powerful computing devices and reliable wireless connectivity. Even after a year, many districts are still lacking these basic requirements.
The longer the pandemic lingers, the more evident it becomes that personal protective equipment (PPE), strict sanitation protocols and increased mental health support will be needed long term. Spending in these categories should remain stable, if not increase, as students return to classrooms and health and safety efforts are stepped up a few more notches. It’s also likely that funding for meal programs will continue to expand to help with growing food insecurity issues.
Then there are the infrastructure and supply considerations. Classroom, cafeteria and even locker room configurations are having to be reworked and plexiglass barriers must be strategical installed. Plus, HVAC systems will have to be run more than usual to promote increased air flow, even after hours, and more frequent hand washing by all people on campus will mean higher water utilization and the potential need for more hand washing stations. Of course, cleaning frequency and thoroughness will rise, driving greater demand for both routine and on-call janitorial service providers.
In other words, if your business offers anything that K-12 school districts may need, now is the time to reach out and let them know. They are actively seeking out new product vendors and service providers who can help them successfully deliver the educational experience that every teacher and student deserves, regardless of where they are teaching/learning.
One of the easiest ways to connect with schools is to upload your catalog to the Periscope Marketplace, which is quickly becoming the go-to shopping platform for public sector entities from Massachusetts and New Jersey to Oregon and Arkansas. You should also sign up for daily bid notifications from Periscope Supplier to Government to ensure you don’t miss any solicitations from school districts. If you aren’t registered to receive notices, you’ll miss out on potential revenue generating opportunities.
Of course, it’s always a good idea to pick up the phone and call districts’ procurement departments to understand urgent needs, standard procurement processes and other contracting vehicles they may use (i.e. statewide or co-op contracts).