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Case Study

Case Study

El Paso ISD Brings Dollars Back into Classrooms and Community by Innovating Its Procurement Process

School districts today are under increased scrutiny with intense pressure to do more with less and spend every dollar wisely. Fortunately, technology has advanced and access to the cloud is making it possible for schools to take advantage of new solutions that can save significant time while reducing costs. When Ron Gatlin became the Executive Director of Procurement and School Resources at the El Paso Independent School District (ISD), his goal was to make the procurement process more user-friendly and efficient by adopting new technology solutions. El Paso ISD is the 13th largest school district in Texas with 85 campuses and 54,000 students. The district’s schools purchase hundreds of items a month and require orders to be turned around quickly. Gatlin knew a cloud-based platform could help simplify, control the spend and expedite shopping time, while still complying with Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) and other state purchasing requirements. Gatlin and Assistant Purchasing Director of Procurement and School Resources, Leticia Rivera, took the lead in innovating the outdated procurement process to provide staff with a more streamlined and efficient experience. The team set out to find a solution that would be easy to implement and that would include punchout capabilities and multiple catalogs for EDGAR compliance. Most importantly, they needed a  one-stop-shop to simplify the procurement experience. Gatlin and Rivera started by implementing an electronic bidding system along with K-12 enterprise resource planning (ERP) software from “TEAMS by Frontline” for organizational management. To further extend this ERP system, they integrated it with EqualLevel’s “Procure-to-Pay (P2P) solution” which allows school districts to quickly deploy a flexible e-procurement marketplace that ensures compliance and punchout capabilities. With the help of EqualLevel, the duo created their procure-to-pay marketplace which offers a single, seamless platform to facilitate all processes associated with the shop-order-pay transaction. Our staff can now go in and shop for what they want, push a button and it automatically turns into a requisition. They no longer have to type in the description, specs, or pricing and can be ensured that all of those details are accurate and compliant, said Gatlin. This eliminates several steps and immensely speeds up the procurement process. To introduce the new e-procurement marketplace to the district, Rivera started with a small pilot group of campus staff and then slowly rolled out the platform to other campuses. All El Paso ISD staff and teachers are now able to shop from approved contracts and transfer their cart to campus administrators who can log into the purchasing system and approve and complete their transactions. This new system has the added benefit of expediting the process for accounts payable. Since pricing is more accurate and purchase orders match what is in the system, invoice reconciliation becomes seamless and fewer changes to purchase orders are made. The campus staff loves it. They can go into the online marketplace, shop for whatever they want, and know that they are getting the best savings on products that are EDGAR compliant, said Rivera. We went from horse and buggy to the Starship Enterprise. El Paso ISD utilizes national purchasing cooperatives as well as direct bid vendors to ensure the options in their marketplace meet legal requirements. By eliminating any maverick spending and ensuring that the staff is only working with approved contracts, the district can demonstrate that they are being fiscally responsible with the public funding they receive. One of Rivera’s goals for the marketplace was to have the ability to identify where district dollars could be spent locally. Keeping the money local when possible is important for us because it helps support small businesses in our community. EqualLevel’s marketplace was able to integrate more local suppliers, enabling El Paso ISD to support the community in which they work and live. All the products are cataloged in the system so staff can choose from a variety of options and suppliers. El Paso ISD currently has 31 vendors in its marketplace and is looking to expand with more local suppliers. The El Paso ISD has also integrated the “EqualLevel Savings Advisor (ELSA)” which is powered by artificial intelligence to automatically optimize spending by comparison shopping punchout items and identifying the best deals. In the first six months that ELSA was in use, the district saved $44,000. By implementing the marketplace and ELSA, we have saved enough money to pay for the technology and put additional dollars back into the classroom, said Rivera. Three years ago, El Paso ISD was one of the first school districts in Texas to implement an e-procurement marketplace. But now, many other school districts in the state are following suit. Recently, because the district already had the marketplace integrated before the COVID pandemic, when the need arose to work remotely, staff were able to continue their operations and easily make the transition without any interruption to the procurement process. According to Gatlin, an intangible benefit of the marketplace has been the unexpected morale boost experienced by staff and teachers. Before joining, the purchasing department was blamed for slowing down the process and holding things up, and she was determined to turn that around. Customer service is a top priority for me, she explained, and our job is to serve the campuses efficiently and expeditiously. Now, campus staff is happy to have a more streamlined and efficient procurement process in place. School districts across Texas and the U.S. are looking for ways to improve their efficiency while still abiding by strict purchasing guidelines. El Paso ISD has found a way to impact its complete purchasing process and improve support to its campuses and classrooms while also being budget conscious and taking great care with its funding. Digitizing the procure-to-pay process has put them at the forefront of public procurement and continues to deliver efficiency and effective management of their community’s requirements.

Case Study

Timely Support for Public School Educators

If re-opening schools during a pandemic and reduced budgets weren’t challenging enough, school administrators and teachers are under added pressure to help students cope with and understand the issues of social injustice and racial tension that have drawn national headlines for the better part of 2020. Educators are challenged to better inform their students about the roots of racism in this country, how it is reflected in modern society, and help them gain the perspective and communication skills needed to advance institutionalized norms that strengthen social equity.

The need for funding and relevant materials to support these educational efforts is evidenced by the 2,600 diverse books-related projects currently seeking funding on the Donor’s Choose website, donorschoose.org. DonorsChoose is a non-profit organization that facilitates crowdfunding for public school teachers’ classroom needs, resource acquisition, and delivery. Since its founding 20 years ago, DonorsChoose has enabled almost $1 billion of funding for over 1.7 million projects on behalf of teachers in 85% of our public K-12 schools.

On August 7, Donor’s Choose welcomed their newest supplier, MahoganyBooks, an award-winning, Washington, D.C.-based independent retailer specializing in books written for, by, or about people of the African Diaspora. The announcement could not come at a better time.

Ramunda Young, co-owner and co-founder of MahoganyBooks, describes their offerings as imperative for any student expanding their worldview and perception of other cultures. We’re thrilled to partner with DonorsChoose to ensure books with rich cultural content are accessible to teachers nationwide.

The announcement noted that teachers can immediately choose from a curated list of books that are ideal for middle and high school students. More titles including options for elementary students will be added later this fall.

In less than a week following the announcement, 124 projects specifically seeking support for MahoganyBooks’ resources were posted to a dedicated funding page on DonorsChoose. Thirteen of those requests have received combined funding totaling $1,534 through individual donations and the matching donations made by the Equal Justice Initiative in support of requests for a select list of books, including Just Mercy.

All of this was made possible through an introduction made by DonorsChoose procurement enablement partner, EqualLevel. EqualLevel and MahoganyBooks are both in the Washington, D.C., metro area. When DonorsChoose expressed their desire to enhance the diversity of their supplier base, EqualLevel’s CEO, Orville Bailey, recognized a win-win opportunity for his customer and the small, family-owned, mission-focused specialty book retailer that he knew.

The connection made would be more than the sharing of business contact information between the two potential partners. As the DonorsChoose-Mahogany Books relationship developed and was ultimately formalized, EqualLevel’s GO e-commerce platform provided Mahogany Books with a seamless connection with the DonorsChoose Marketplace.

In their August 7 announcement, DonorsChoose CFO and EVP of fulfillment, Geoff Hill said, Our procurement partners at EqualLevel introduced us to Ramunda and Derrick Young and helped us launch MahoganyBooks as a vendor in record time this summer. We’re so proud to be able to offer our teachers the opportunity to request valuable classroom materials from MahoganyBooks, while at the same time supporting a Black-owned independent bookstore that gives back to the Washington, D.C. community. We can’t wait to see all of the teachers and students who will benefit during this back-to-school season.


  • To learn more about DonorsChoose and support teachers’ educational resources needs, visit donorschoose.org.
  • Review the entire MahoganyBooks catalog at mahaganbooks.com.
  • To learn more about EqualLevel’s GO platform for suppliers and PunchOut enabled e-commerce functionality, email info@equallevel.com or call (301)560-1492.

Case Study

Big Savings Power for WCHCS – A Story of Digital Procurement Transformation and COVID-19

Learn how Washington Court House City Schools moved from a paper, labor-intensive requisitioning and PO process to a truly virtualized environment that is saving district dollars and time. They will explain their journey that began with the search for a solution to reduce paper and streamline processes yet has come to be much more. Hear how they have realized benefits that exceed the original goals that are serving them well during the COVID-19 crisis. The real virtuality WCHCS has achieved obeys social distancing guidelines and will make it much easier for the district to comply with future policy guidelines likely required.


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