How Leyden High School Saved Precious Time & Money Sourcing School Grounds Equipment & Turf

Type: Article
Topics: District & School Operations, Finance & Budgets

December 14, 2023

Leyden school grounds
Campus view of East Leyden High School, Leyden High School District 212, Franklin Park, IL
Small District. Big Impact.
I think it’s pretty simple. They save time. They allow us to focus on other aspects of our school district. They save us money. They save us resources. It’s really a simple plug-in that just makes all the sense in the world.

Public school district superintendents continue to feel the weight of shrinking education funding. Procurement has become more arduous, with copious hours spent on district purchasing tasks. To combat the strain, districts look to government cooperative procurement as an additional arm of their purchasing team.

There are many procurement organizations for education, so it is important to look for those with exceptional customer service, keen knowledge of states’ regulations, and a diverse selection of affordable and customizable contracts

Sourcewell is a government cooperative procurement organization, with over 40 years of dedicated service helping government, education and nonprofits work more efficiently through national, competitively solicited contract purchasing solutions.

Offering speedier contract creation and the opportunity to leverage economies of scale, with organizations like Sourcewell, district purchasers can essentially stop bidding and buy what they want when they want it.

One school district in Illinois has done just that, and they want other districts to learn from their experiences with cooperative purchasing to gain strategies to better streamline and improve purchasing processes through cooperative procurement to save them time, money and their sanity.

The challenge
Aerial Field
Aerial view of the Leyden High School District 212 athletic field, where the district procured an artificial turf field for the school community from a Sourcewell awarded supplier.

Dr. Nick Polyak, Superintendent of Leyden High School District 212 in Franklin Park, Ill., is the leader of a small district of approximately 3,800 students and staff. He has had extensive experience with cooperative purchasing and with Sourcewell.

With just two high schools, Leyden High School District 212 knows size can matter. They don’t have a robust Buildings and Grounds department, for example, and they rely on fewer people than in larger districts to make the same big procurement decisions.

Before using Sourcewell, Leyden district leaders would commit a lot of time preparing bid specifications for purchasing goods and services. There were multiple week-long review processes, before they could bring any of the bids to their Board of Education. Using Sourcewell to assist with the procurement process, Leyden district staff has saved valuable time and resources (in some cases weeks) that could be dedicated to other critical tasks in the buildings that were not receiving as much attention.

The solution

In Dr. Polyak’s words, “Imagine our staff to be experts in every possible field of goods and services for which they need to buy, such that they can write specifications, knowing the exact details to focus on. The learning curve is so huge, it’s unrealistic, and our time could be used more efficiently in other areas. It’s been a life saver to have a partner in procurement who can say ‘we’ve already done that for you, we’ve already put those bids together, we’ve already vetted them.’ You would never know until you’re in the job as to what goes into some of these procurement processes, so that you’re legally covered, so that you can present information to your community and to your board of education. They don’t prepare you for these things in doctoral programs.”

It’s the totality of all the things they offer and the support they give.
The impact

Leyden is a partner with Sourcewell, because they find them to be trustworthy, and that’s what a district should be looking for. According to Dr. Polyak, “Sourcewell is a part of the Minnesota government, so they’re respected and vetted, and they can be depended on for having the years of experience and thousands of agencies who also depend on them.

“Sourcewell’s customer service is also second to none. Whenever there have been issues or questions, they’re very responsive. They’ve helped in any way we’ve needed, and the availability of products they have is unbelievable. If it’s something you need, they’ve probably done the work on it, and they can help you with it.

Gaitor In Action
Daniel Arroyo, of Leyden High School District 212, uses an outdoor vehicle procured from a Sourcewell awarded supplier to keep the campus grounds safe and clean.

“It’s the totality of all the things they offer and the support they give. We’ve worked with Sourcewell to buy classroom furniture. We’ve worked with them to buy maintenance equipment, snowplows, and mowers. We’ve worked with them to put in an artificial turf athletic field. When you think about the broadness of all those different products and processes, it’s really remarkable.

“I think it’s pretty simple. They save time. They allow us to focus on other aspects of our school district. They save us money. They save us resources. It’s really a simple plug-in that just makes all the sense in the world to get the quantity of scale of what they’ve done to support school districts.

“In full transparency, I’m not the direct link to cooperative purchasing or Sourcewell. It’s our chief school business official, our supervisor of buildings and grounds. When they come back to me and rave about the customer service, then I know it’s good — it’s making our people’s lives easier. When our people are happy, I’m happy. When I’m happy, the board of education and the community are happy... so it all works."


Sourcewell Logo Sourcewell is AASA's Government Cooperative Purchasing Partner. Browse the District Purchasing Hub— a diverse collection of available Sourcewell government cooperative procurement contracts — the resource for all your purchasing needs.


Nick Polyak Nicholas Polyak, serves as the superintendent for Leyden Community High School District #212 in Illinois. He began his educational career as a high school math teacher and has since served as a dean of students, assistant principal and director of instruction and staff development. He served his first superintendency at Illinois Valley Central School District #321.

Polyak currently co-leads a cohort of AASA’s Aspiring Superintendents Academy® and leads AASA’s Transformational Leadership Consortium.