The National Joint Powers Alliance recently awarded five companies four-year contracts for curriculum and other education-related products or services, in the cooperative purchasing organization’s first move into the pre-K to college instructional sector.
The contract awards, approved Dec. 17, pave the way for schools and districts to bypass issuing their own requests for proposals, or RFPs, in purchases of curriculum, education materials and services—and instead purchase directly from contracts issued to specific companies through the Staples, Minn.-based governmental service cooperative.
The companies receiving the contracts are:
- Age of Learning, a Glendale, Calif. business that owns ABCMouse, an online resource for early learners;
- Carolina Biologic Supply Co., a Burlington, N.C., company, for its science and math curriculum and products;
- K12 Inc., a Herndon, Va.-based publicly traded company that provides online curriculum and courses;
- Middlebury Interactive Languages, a Middlebury, Vt., business that offers digital world language courses and curriculum (The company is owned by Middlebury College and K12 Inc.); and,
- Pearson Inc., the U.K.-based worldwide education company, for its products and services.
No aggregate value of the contracts is available, according to Gordon Thompson, a contract manager for the cooperative, who was in the process of contacting the winning companies when he spoke with Education Week today.
Companies that win contracts with the cooperative need “a solid footprint nationally” to serve schools anywhere in the United States, said Thompson, who indicated that more than 30 companies participated in a conference call earlier this school year to learn about the use of cooperative purchasing for curriculum—a concept that was new to many of them.
This was the second time the cooperative has issued a request for proposals to the education-publishing industry under the “curriculum” heading. A similar attempt two years ago failed to generate responses from bidders who met the criteria, Thompson said.
To use the cooperative’s contract, a school must become a member of the alliance, which it can do at no cost. The alliance generally receives between 1 percent and 4 percent of the total value of a contract, an amount that is negotiated with each business and paid for by them, according to Thompson.
The contracts are available to public and private schools, from preschools to colleges.
With about 10,000 school districts among its membership of nearly 50,000 public agencies, educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations, the “education” category accounts for about 40 percent of the cooperative’s total contract usage. The alliance grants and manages 175 contracts for products ranging from carpeting and furniture to office supplies and auto parts. Schools may use the contracts for office supplies, office equipment, or vehicles. One Maryland district bought $3.2 million worth of copiers through the alliance, for example.
More information about the far-reaching national curriculum RFP can be found in my August 2013 post on the topic, before the solicitation was released.