A Conversation with NJPA, an AASA School Solutions Partner

 Chad Coauette - NJPA Paul Drange - NJPA
Chad Coauette (left), NJPA executive director and CEO, and Paul Drange (right), NJPA director of regional programs.

Premier Partner - NJPAAASA, The School Superintendents Association and National Joint Powers Alliance® (NJPA) have formed an exclusive, national partnership that provides public school districts access to more than 200 national competitively solicited contract purchasing solutions. The following is an online conversation with Chad Coauette, NJPA executive director and CEO, and Paul Drange, NJPA director of regional programs.

Topics Coauette and Drange discuss include how member organizations can take advantage of NJPA’s cooperative purchasing services, solutions developed from their varied contracts and the longtime AASA-NJPA partnership.     

AASA: What is the mission of NJPA?

CC: The mission of NJPA is very simple. It’s three phases: build valued relationships, deliver innovative solutions and exceed the expectations of our members.

AASA: Since the founding of NJPA in the late 1970s, the organization has experienced a tremendous amount of growth, especially in recent years. Please talk about this growth and the kinds of organizations you’re working with.

CC: As an education-service agency, we have, as a featured product or service at NJPA, a cooperative purchasing division. Because of the North American services that we provide, we have roughly 50,000 member organizations that belong to NJPA and utilize our cooperative purchasing services.

We’ve had exponential growth in the use of our cooperative purchasing services in the last five-to-six years. The growth has been quite dramatic. We continue to meet the needs of our members that cross three domains—government entities, education entities and nonprofit entities. We continue to escalate our services to serve those members. As we continue to grow as an organization, we are providing more solutions as we have more vendor partners. We attribute that growth to a very successful cooperative-purchasing connection.

PD: We’ve been able to scale up our direct services. We have a number of school districts, members of AASA here in Minnesota, that we serve specifically with teacher development and training, leadership development for school administrators, principals and superintendents. We also do direct services and trainings with our city and county partners and nonprofits, as our main customer base. That growth has allowed us to reinvest in the communities we serve, and build on the services that we provide.

AASA: What regions largely represent your client base?

CC: We serve school districts of all sizes. In some cases, they leverage the NJPA contracts we hold because they don’t have the staffing to keep up with their procurement needs. We provide an efficient solution for school districts to get the products and goods they want. Beyond efficiency, staffing and our expertise, often-times small to medium-sized school districts can’t get the price points that some of our much larger organizations can benefit from because of purchase volume. We help aggregate that volume across the nation so small, medium and large organizations alike can gain efficiencies from a streamlined purchasing process.

Organizations that use our cooperative purchasing may have different reasons for using us. It’s related to the solutions that are available from our contracts, streamlining that process, as well as price points, cost efficiencies, and the relationships that we’ve developed.

AASA: NJPA is AASA’s premier School Solutions partner. Why is it important to partner with The School Superintendents Association?

PD: AASA was established more than 150 years ago. The School Superintendents Association has a long-standing, solid reputation with school districts as a “go-to” resource—an organization for superintendents. That’s a highly-respected place to be. NJPA appreciates the opportunity to work with AASA to build on NJPA solutions as we bring those solutions to school districts. It’s a highly-valued relationship and we appreciate the opportunity, creativity and programming that we’ve developed with AASA.

Serving school districts is a key area as far as our contract-purchasing program is concerned. It makes a lot of business sense not only for NJPA and AASA, but also for school districts across the country to know that NJPA is an option to respond to the purchasing challenges they have.

AASA: What are some of the benefits AASA members can receive by purchasing through NJPA?

CC: NJPA holds contracts with worldwide, best-in-class companies. We hold these contracts on behalf of our nearly 50,000 member organizations. By having those contracts available, it helps streamline the procurement process for our members. Our vendor partners want to make sure that our members can access these services.

AASA: NJPA has supported a number of AASA programs such as the Aspiring Superintendents program, the AASA Mini-Grant program and others. Discuss why it’s important to support these programs and other initiatives.  

CC: As part of our vision, NJPA continues to reinvest in the communities we serve. We value our partnership with AASA and these programs illustrate the reinvestment in these communities—throughout the state of Minnesota, our state partners, and other strategic-channeled partners. AASA is one of our main strategic partners and helps us live out the value of reinvesting in the communities we serve by specifically reinvesting back with AASA and in the K-12 community across the nation.

AASA: NJPA always has a presence at AASA’s National Conference on Education. When you attend NCE, describe the experience you’ve had when networking with AASA members and other education leaders.

PD: Clearly there are baseline benefits in creating awareness that we’ve got a great partnership with AASA that is definitely apparent as you come in the conference hall. For example, it’s very impactful around the Mini-Grant program. Chad has the honor to present the grants to the recipients on stage. It’s rewarding to witness the direct impact the grants have on families and students in their respective areas. Through the conference, opportunities to have face-to-face interaction with educators are very impactful. It’s an honor to be part of that. It’s extraordinary to bring those educational leaders together in one place.

CC: I concur with Paul. I would like to add the keynote speakers AASA brings are top notch. They bring powerful and timely messages to us. I appreciate the opportunities to hear them.

AASA: Looking down the road, where do you see the AASA-NJPA partnership heading?

CC: I see us continuing to grow together. As we grow in cooperative purchasing, our relationship with AASA grows. As AASA makes greater connections and provides services, it creates more awareness for NJPA. Moving into the future, there will be new opportunities to connect on projects such as the Aspiring Superintendents program, the Mini-Grants program and other outward-based services to help collectively reinvest in the K-12 education community. I look forward to continuing our work with AASA long into the future.


For more information about the AASA-NJPA partnership, visit the AASA website or contact tgao@aasa.org

Text Only 2000 character limit

Please verify that you are a real person by answering the question below. (Required)
What is two + three?