How to Furnish a New School | Print |
User Rating: / 0

As daunting a job as it may seem, furnishing a new school is not as difficult, nor is it as complicated or costly as it may appear on the surface.


Generally, all that is needed is knowledge of your school’s instructional focus, a good base list of resources, a good established supplier base, an efficient ordering and receiving process, sufficient budget, some lead time and a completed building. It really is that simple. However, there are instances when a school isn’t completely ready when students begin to arrive, budgets aren’t readily known when it is time to start ordering, resource lists are outdated or incomplete, and suppliers are unknown.


Instructional Focus


Obviously, the types of instructional resources that will be purchased for your new school are dependent on what you will be teaching. In simple terms, you don’t need a list of resources for K-9 if your school is only going to teach K-6. Curriculum lists also need to be consistent with the philosophy of your school. If your school is primarily a Fine Arts school, then a detailed list of Science or Athletic Resources may not be necessary. Resource Requirement lists that are broken down by grade levels, rooms, and curriculum specific listings such as Science and Music stand a better chance of meeting  your specific needs. Quantities of resources should be identified by unit of measure (box, each, set, etc). Furthermore, the lists should identify whether you need to buy items per student, per school, per room, per grade etc.


Established Supplier Base


This may be the biggest challenge for many schools, especially rural schools.


Larger school Districts likely have established suppliers that can supply all of the items required. The secret is to have pricing, delivery arrangements and product specifications established and in place at any given time. Long term contracts with established suppliers with set specifications and pricing are the best method of ensuring that when it is time to buy, you don’t have to look far and wide or go through tendering processes because this has already been done for you.


Since purchasing professionals may not be available to rural schools, site-based schools or small school Districts, it is advisable to seek alternative assistance and/or advice. Cooperative purchasing contracts may already be in place and could be sourced for required items. Local cooperatives, state/provincial and national cooperatives are available all over North America. By contacting your colleagues in other Districts or other public agencies you may discover Cooperatives that are available in your area. Additionally, sourcing solutions and procurement consulting services can be obtained by e-mailing us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


Logistics -  Efficient Ordering and Receiving Processes


Depending on your window of opportunity for receiving goods into your new school, the level of mayhem can vary. A large District with a distribution or warehouse facility can help a school receive goods as well.


A central receiving facility can receive resources and equipment ahead of time and have it ready for last minute delivery if necessary. Paperwork is completed, a map of the school is provided and when the keys are turned over, the distribution staff can quickly move the materials into the exact locations specified on the map. Materials handlers and/or volunteers can assist in unpacking boxes, discarding refuse and placing resources on shelves. We recommend that only trained and insured professionals be permitted to assemble furniture and equipment and install equipment on walls etc. Volunteers should only be allowed to assist and to perform small jobs such as uncrating boxes and discarding refuse.


In schools without central receiving, volunteers can assist with checking off and counting resources that are received as well. But only professionals should be permitted to assemble and install. Scheduling deliveries with suppliers is critical as well when items are shipped direct to schools as there is only so much space in parking lots for trucks. Keep in mind too that schools are usually in residential areas and load restrictions may restrict truck size allowed in neighborhoods. There may also be playgrounds and construction equipment nearby to be aware of.


Sufficient Budget


Obviously, budget is critical and should be established well ahead of time. The “Solution” lists at The Classroom Solution are excellent resources to use for preliminary budgeting purposes. Once a list is priced out, it can be used repeatedly for future projects as long as inflationary factors are considered.


Lead Time


Generally, furniture and equipment can take 4-8 weeks to be delivered. Some specialty items can take even longer. Consumable products such as instructional resources, books and stationery usually take less time but you may face numerous backorders with these small products.


Installation and set-up of furniture and equipment and limited or no access to the school due to construction delays can add to the lead time required as well. Availability of labor in some locations could be an issue.


It is advisable to consider all of these factors when making decisions regarding when staff can start working in the school or when students and classes can start. Planning for volunteers and installers is affected as well. Extra avoidable costs may be incurred if good planning is not in place.


Base List of Resources


As mentioned above, The Classroom Solution lists are designed to allow a school or buyer to make quantity decisions based on the design of the school. If there are 10 primary classrooms in the school, you simply have to buy 10 times the quantity of items that are listed on The Classroom (Primary) Equipment Solution list.


Other examples;

One Library = one times the Library list:

Two Science Labs = two times the Science list


The Audio Visual Solution is designed as a list of resources that can be shared by an entire school. Of course, the lists can be modified or enhanced to meet specific requirements in different schools or school Districts. Check them out at .


The excitement and emotions that result with the anticipation of opening a new school must be tempered to alleviate the potential chaos, disappointments and frustration that will surely occur if logical, practical and realistic guidelines are not followed.


The excitement of seeing the kids in a school that is ready for them and the learning experience for the students is incredibly more valuable when construction workers, installers, mud, dust and loading trucks are not present. Be practical, prepared and well organized.

James Dobbin is President of The Classroom Solution, Inc. As a Certified Public Purchasing Officer with 35 years in purchasing and supply, the most recent 23 years in the K-12 environment, James brings a wealth of knowledge to schools and teachers needing assistance in making school purchasing decisions. Understanding that teachers spend a considerable amount of their own time and money buying resources for their classrooms, James created with the desire to reach out to and help as many teachers as possible to find simple and cost effective buying solutions to help enhance the learning experience in their classrooms.


  No Comments.
You need to login or register to post comments.