Six Guam businesses see sales increase, thanks to the Guam Department of Education’s decision to purchase back-to-school supplies on behalf of thousands of students, with a budget of more than $ 4 million.
By call for tenders, the suppliers selected are, according to the GDOE:
• Sunleader Guam, which operates as Guam Modern Office Supply;
• ST Corp .;
• Goodland Inc., doing business as National Office Supply;
• Mariano Prime Ltd., which operates under the name MD Wholesale;
• Johndel International Inc., which operates as JMI-Edison; and
• Graphics center.
Some vendors are better known for selling goods other than school supplies.
JMI-Edison described itself as a supplier of “everything from electric motors, power generation, medical equipment, and hotel and restaurant materials and equipment.
MD Wholesale described itself as apsupplier of pharmaceutical and medical supplies.
ST Corp. described itself as a distributor of “wine, beer and consumer goods”.
Graphic Center is in the printing business.
The total dollar value of supplies that each vendor can sell to GDOE will vary and will not be known until all purchase orders have been posted, according to GDOE.
Each of GDOE’s face-to-face students will receive $ 150 in educational supplies under the Education Stabilization Fund II and an additional $ 323 is set aside for supplies in the US bailout to cover student needs for the year.
Suppliers began ordering in May and while some supplies have arrived, other orders may take longer to fill.
GDOE officials said the decision to purchase the educational supplies was made with a contribution at the school level instead of issuing vouchers to families.
“The teachers were actually the ones who actually generated these lists, we used them as a source of information. The teachers got together and spoke with the administrators to determine what types of supplies would be purchased, ”said Assistant Superintendent of Program and Instruction Joseph Sanchez. He said the GDOE may consider the possibility of providing vouchers to parents for educational supplies in the future.
Superintendent Jon Fernandez said there are pros and cons with a voucher system. He noted that in the past GDOE has tried a voucher system for educational supplies.
“Trying to keep track of what is used, how much is used and for what – there is a different level of accountability for the voucher system. I think in both cases there are pros and cons and we learn as we go, Fernandez said.
Ignacio Santos, the administrator of the GDOE’s federal programs office, pointed out that issuing vouchers would not get supplies to students faster.
“Even though we have gone through a voucher system, we still have to go through an indefinite auction quantity, and then from the indefinite auction quantity we will have to go out and coupons through the school, which is a very tedious process. “Santos said.
Instead, Santos said GDOE chose to cut out the middleman.
“What has happened is that the schools have published and submitted their proposals or quotes, and then they are sent directly to the schools, so there is no middleman,” Santos said.
Supplies for online learners
Funding for educational supplies, however, only covers face-to-face students.
“We received a question from our online learners, saying, ‘These types of supplies are not exactly perfect for our learning model, are there any supplies that can be adapted to the online learning model so that these students can also get this allowance? ? ‘ Fernandez said.
According to the superintendent, the department will take this into account as it develops plans for the future.
“But I think the effort is once again that we don’t want our students and their parents to have to worry about these lists of supplies when we have the money available to help close that gap and therefore everything. may not be available on day one, ”Fernandez said.
Regarding the quality of the supplies the students will receive, Sanchez said they are getting better quality materials, through the tendering process.
“When we provide our school services for calls for tenders, we must try to describe the quality as well as possible and we have been doing this for several years. We know that if we get a pencil and pen that doesn’t work, we always take notes and update our description in our offerings to get better and better quality, ”Sanchez said.