Schools Look For Uses for Surplus Property

By Kim Siebert MacPhail

David Coelho, Director of Finance of Bedford Public Schools, presented the School Committee on September 18th with a list of surplus items that have been earmarked as surplus:

  • two sets of social studies textbooks, published in 1988;
  • 18 very large, heavy, working televisions with carts, ranging from 28-32 inches;
  • a portable wheelchair lift;
  • two disassembled cafeteria cash registers that have been used, until now, for spare parts.

Coelho stated that the company from which the wheelchair lift was purchased had indicated a willingness to buy it back. The televisions may be saleable as well, Coelho speculated.

School Committee member Abbie Seibert asked Coelho what would happen to the two sets of textbooks. He responded, “Normally what I would do is offer them to other school districts in Massachusetts which would probably result in crickets chirping. There are textbook companies that will take things back. There are companies that will recycle them—essentially tear them apart – the covers go in one bin and the paper goes in another. In the past, we have had companies that take them and export them to Haiti or other countries. In this case, there could be language or content issues. A math book, for example, might be more universal.”

“I suppose if we just recycled them as a town,” Seibert suggested, “the town would benefit because of the recycling tonnage.”

Coelho agreed that this was a possibility.

Chair Anne Bickford asked about the wheelchair lift. If the elevators failed and a lift was needed, she reasoned, one would be on hand.

Coelho stated that the Facilities Department said that the lift was not needed. However, given Bickford’s question, he said he would pose the scenario to Facilities before acting on the resale.

The School Committee voted unanimously to declare the identified items as surplus. Massachusetts state law Chapter 30B requires that all school committees go through the surplus declaration process before items can be sold or otherwise disposed of.