Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

School Printing Budgets Show Their True Colors. (Industry Perspective)

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

School Printing Budgets Show Their True Colors. (Industry Perspective)

Article excerpt

For education technology decision-makers and implementers, there are a large number of familiar output choices for teachers, administrators and directors when upgrading their current classroom and administrative printing technology needs. These include ink jet, monochrome laser and color laser printers. While these products all offer excellent print quality, technology implementers may not always consider the significant after-purchase costs associated with the ongoing operation of these printers. So, what seems like a smart, low-cost acquisition up front, may, in hindsight, turn out to be a higher cost decision over the long term--resulting in an unforeseen budget impact that could have been avoided.

With continually increasing budgetary restraints and the need to ensure a sound return on all technology investments, implementing a cost-effective document output solution is taking on an increased importance. Last year, for example, one Detroit school district was looking to reduce part of its $2.3 million deficit by removing copiers and setting up a centralized printing operation that would allow everyone to make their own copies. Because it is likely to receive the same level of scrutiny as other so-called "nonessential" purchases, printing is a line item that technology coordinators must be prepared to justify readily.

Maximizing Resources, Controlling Costs

Over the last 10 years, a noticeable shift has taken place within the education market from being an almost exclusive user of Apple systems to more of a PC and Mac blend. Along with this change, many classrooms have generally progressed from dot matrix printers to color ink jet, monochrome laser and, in some cases, color laser printers.

Despite the fact that color ink jets produce great output quality and have the capability to print in color or monochrome, often overlooked is their cost per page and impact on long-term operating costs. For many budget-constrained school districts, and even wealthier school districts, the dollars for supporting output in the classroom can reach unanticipated levels. This results in a competition with other spending priorities within districts.

For this reason, many educators are rethinking their strategy, instead considering monochrome and color laser printers. When looking at the whole picture, including initial acquisition costs, price per page, need for printer sharing and cost of supplies, educators reach the inevitable conclusion that due to their high reliability, ease of sharing and low output costs, monochrome and color laser printers are best suited for basic everyday printing within school environments.

There is a variety of configurations that can be deployed in away that is cost-effective, because it's essential to maximize resources and control costs. These configurations include network-ready laser models for computer labs or classroom networks, and stand-alone models for desktop or administrative uses. Also, since most models are PC and Mac compatible, they will fit seamlessly into any existing environment. If there are situations where color is required, a network-ready color laser printer can be made available to all users throughout the building who need higher volume color printing. …

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