Billings School District 2 for years has had its own warehouse. The question facing administrators is what to do with it.
"Is there a way to make it more efficient?" said Scott Anderson, executive director of business services.
The warehouse provides copy services for the district and carries most of the supplies used by everyone from teachers to secretaries.
To examine the issue, the district ordered an efficiency study of warehouse operations.
"We learned a lot about the intricacies, the complications" of the warehouse, said interim Superintendent Jack Copps.
The study was performed by a consulting group used regularly by Billings Clinic. Jim Duncan, president of the Billings Clinic Foundation, offered the group's services to SD2 at a discount, Copps said.
The district hasn't yet released the specifics of the study. The warehouse employs about a half-dozen workers, and any shifts or changes in services offered by the warehouse could affect jobs.
"SD2 has guys doing a quality job there," Anderson said.
The study looked at where district employees were buying their supplies. Employees carry purchasing cards and can buy supplies from anywhere — local stores, the Internet or the warehouse.
The study also examines what savings can be produced by outsourcing different combinations of warehouse services — and what services might be best left intact in the district.
"It's a combination of price and service," Anderson said. "We've gotta look at every angle and every area."
In the coming months, the district will put out to bid some of the warehouse services to see what comes back.
For purchasing, the district will look at the top 100 or 200 most popular items at the warehouse and see if there's a company that can provide them at a cheaper cost.
To be considered, the services outsourced by the district would have to be cheaper and better provided than what the warehouse offers, Anderson said.
If the district can't beat the warehouse, there's no point in going to a third party, he said.
Some companies may be able to better handle some services than the warehouse. Other services may not work to be oursourced.
"What's the mixture?" Anderson said. "That's what we're looking at."
Copps stressed that nothing has been decided. Once the study is released, more discussion will take place as to what is needed to save the district money and improve services.
"Our effort is clearly to make it more efficient," Copps said.