Trustees hear cost-savings ideas

2010-07-13T00:00:00Z Trustees hear cost-savings ideasROB ROGERS Of The Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette
July 13, 2010 12:00 am  • 

A paper and copier efficiency firm out of Boise, Idaho is projecting that Billings School District 2 could save u,p to $435,000 over the next four years by tightening up its contracts with copy vendors and using more efficient printers and copiers.

In a presentation to the school board’s budget committee on Monday night, Jeff Blood, with the company Optimizon, took committee members through a 20-page report showing the different steps that the district could take to reduce its copy costs.

Specifically, the savings come by using less-costly copiers and printers, consolidating those copiers to just one or two brands, controlling the volume of copies, creating better management of in-district copying and working out better contracts with the companies providing the machines.

“Everyone’s got a piece of the budget,” Blood said of the many companies with which the district has contracts.

By reducing that, the district can save a considerable amount of money, he said.

Optimizon’s study found that in the elementary schools printing numbers ran from 12 pages copied per student per day in one school down to four pages copied per student per day in another.

By looking at usage rates and tracking every piece of paper that comes out of a printer or copier, Optimizon can plan efficiency models down to the individual school, Blood said.

“Everything’s measured,” he said. “Everything’s reported constantly.”

Optimizon would also negotiate contracts between the district and its vendors.

Joel Guthals, a board trustee and chairman of the budgeting committee, called the proposal “promising.”

Trustee Connie Wardell suggested taking Optimizon’s presentation to the full board for its August meeting, giving Thomas Harper, the district’s finance director, time to bring up to speed Keith Beeman, SD2’s new superintendent.

Committee members expressed some skepticism over how much Optimizon could really save the district.

Harper said after meeting with the company that he called some of the other school districts that used the firm.

“(Optimizon’s) clients spoke very highly of them,” he said.

Also at the meeting, the committee discussed the district’s general fund budget and smaller budgets, such as transportation, building reserves and technology. The district’s fiscal year ended June 30. A completed budget with final numbers must be finished by July 20.

Contact Rob Rogers at rrogers@billingsgazette.com or 657-1231.

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