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National award highlights crucial role of Purchasing Services

Updated: Oct 19, 2018

Oct. 16, 2018 - Duval County Public Schools was one of 26 school districts in the United States and Canada to be awarded the 23rd Annual Achievement of Excellence in Procurement award.

This honor from the National Procurement Institute, Inc. (NPI) is the highest award given by the organization. The national award recognizes school districts who receive the highest scores on a set rubric for how efficiently, effectively, and ethically they can provide schools with supplies and equipment.

That is the essential role of the district's Purchasing Services department. The department -- comprised of 14 team members -- are responsible for ensuring schools have all the materials they need to carry out the school year, whether it's textbooks, playground equipment or simply forks for the cafeteria.

Pictured are nine of the 14 team members who issued 12,601 orders in the 2018 fiscal year.

It's not a job that Terrence Wright, the department's director, takes lightly. He will never forget the moment 20 years ago that made him realize the impact of his job.

It was 1998, and he had just started in Duval County Public School's Purchasing Services. Encouraged by colleagues to visit schools, Wright went to have lunch on one of the campuses. It was while he was going through the lunch line that he realized something was missing -- forks.

"I grabbed my knife and spoon, got my lunch, and sat down and [ate] with my friend.  I did not think anything about not having a fork to eat with," Wright recalled.

A few days later, Wright's supervisor confronted him with a conflict between the district and the vendor who supplies plastic wares for the schools. There had been a disagreement between pricing, and schools had gone months without proper eating utensils for students and staff.

"This let me see firsthand how decisions that were being made in our office were impacting our ultimate customers, the students," Wright said. "To this day, I always try to make sure that we make the best decisions possible so that goods and services can be rendered or delivered to schools and departments."

This is a mindset he and his team have embraced. As "behind-the-scenes" operators in the district, Wright said they work endlessly to ensure students and staff have what they need -- whether it's paperclips or the contract for student transportation.

Congratulations to all Purchasing Services team members and thank you all for your service!


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