Tech merger helps school districts save money


By Gary Budzak - gbudzak@civitasmedia.com



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A merger of two statewide data service organizations earlier this year is helping local districts save money.

In February, the boards of Marion-based Tri-Rivers Educational Computer Association (TRECA) and Columbus-based Metropolitan Educational Council (MEC) decided to merge and form META Solutions, which calls itself a provider of information and purchasing solutions.

“MEC was the information technology center (ITC) for about 25 districts in central Ohio,” said Paul Craft, Delaware City Schools superintendent. “MEC had a purchasing consortium, and that’s for everything from textbooks to natural gas to school buses and commodities for the school lunch program. They were the state leader in that – the largest purchasing consortium, but with a small ITC.”

On the other hand, TRECA was the state’s largest ITC, with 75 districts statewide.

“But it wasn’t into that realm (purchasing),” Craft said. “Looking at geography and efficiencies, they decided to pursue coming together. It’s been one of the smoothest consolidations we’ve seen.”

“I believe this merger will redefine the services and expectations of ITC and support services,” said James Grube, META Solutions chief operations officer, in a statement. “We will leverage the best practices of two high achieving organizations to increase choice, reduce cost, and enhance value to the organizations we serve.”

The new organization said it serves more 550,000 people in more than 400 school districts, libraries and other public organizations.

“Currently Big Walnut, Buckeye Valley, Delaware City and Olentangy districts are all members of our consortium,” said META spokesman Matt Shachter.

The merger has resulted in a lower charge per pupil from the ITC for the district, Craft said.

“In TRECA’s case it was $10.75 per pupil, and we just reduced that to $9.75, so we’re already seeing some of the efficiencies coming out through this,” he said.

In addition to purchasing deals, Craft said META will help the district with its Internet connection.

“Our peak use has probably quadrupled in the last five years, and META is the one helping to get the contracts to make sure we have that connectivity, help us in terms of our filtering and screening of security to keep that network safe and to keep our kids on the straight and narrow in terms of the types of sites they’re accessing. It’s a huge pipeline to get data to flow back and forth from the Internet.”

Craft said he has had experiences with both organizations and knows them well.

“It was gratifying to see key groups I knew were working hard to support districts come together the way they did.”

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By Gary Budzak

gbudzak@civitasmedia.com

Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.

Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.