Tracy Unified School District
A California school district is reducing total cost of purchasing with Amazon Business.
With $1,000 less to spend per student than neighboring California schools, Tracy Unified School District needed to make every dollar count. And in a district that’s understandably fiscally conservative, the change to Amazon Business made those savings and improvements easy to see.
Tracy Unified School District, 60 miles east of San Francisco, has 19 school sites serving 15,000 students. It’s a rapidly growing district contending with the local consequences of a statewide budget crisis. Despite having nearly 60 percent of its students in free and reduced lunch programs, Tracy still receives $1,000 less per student than nearby districts.
“California has a silent recession for schools,” says Superintendent Brian Stephens. “These budget challenges make it very difficult for us to maintain the quality of programs we want compared to our surrounding neighbors. So when I got the opportunityto work with Amazon Business, I went for it. Amazon has helped us to innovate by allowing us to look at every expense differently.”
— Brian Stephens, Superintendent, Tracy Unified School District
Stephens felt so strongly about using Amazon Business to support the district’s savings efforts that he took personal responsibility for rolling it out to 800 buyers across the school system. In a district particularly resistant to change, this took some convincing. “The Amazon rollout got buy-in because I personally communicated to management and staff that we wanted them to make smart choices for their schools and our students,” Stephens says. “I put my name on this initiative and communicated that it was a top priority. It changed the status quo quickly.”
At first some principals were skeptical about the price savings and selection. But, Stephens says, they were won over by the benefits and savings. “We showed them specific items they use every day, like printer ink, and the remarkable savings they could find at Amazon over their other vendors,” he says. “Those real-life examples that will directly support their teachers and students got their attention and has smoothed this process considerably. I haven’t had any complaints, which tells me it’s working and they are saving money.”
The reporting capabilities in Amazon Business have also helped Tracy Unified School District maximize the value of its spend. “Amazon Business has helped us save critical funds for students by giving us the ability to compare costs via item-by-item comparison. We can show Amazon what we bought in office supplies over the past year, for example, and they can show us an exact or a comparable item,” Stephens says. “We look for every single item that is even a dollar less than what we were spending before, and we’ve found many items where we can save money with Amazon Business. That money immediately goes back into educating our students.”
Stephens sees a direct connection between giving teachers access to the best and most budget-friendly supplies and achieving excellent educational outcomes. “The thing that I most want to accomplish is to move our district more into the 21st century,” he says. “We have changed tremendously in the last four years, and Amazon is a big part of that change.”