Question: Buying equipment for the school?

Our group has decided to purchase a laminating machine for our school. It is a costly piece of equipment. How do most groups deal with upkeep and maintenance of this sort of equipment? And how do we make sure it’s cared for in the future after our leaders have left the school?

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Advice from PTO Today

Elly writes:

Parent groups should keep a few things in mind before purchasing laminators, copiers, printers, and similar items for their school. It’s a good idea to sit down with your principal and hash out these details beforehand.

If your group plans to make the laminator a gift to the school, it legally belongs to the school. Therefore, it’s property that will not be covered by your parent group’s insurance policy. Mention this to your principal so the item is included under his school or district insurance policy.

Before buying the equipment, find out the estimated monthly and annual expenses associated with supplies and maintenance contract fees (if there is one). If your group doesn’t plan to pay those costs for either the short term or long term, be sure your principal understands exactly what costs he’ll be carrying in his budget. Get it down on paper, place it in your group’s important files, and send a copy to your principal, too.

It’s also important to establish usage rules and training. Designate a team of several volunteers and one or two staff members to do all print and laminating jobs at school. By limiting access to trained volunteers and staff, you reduce the likelihood that the machine will break or be misused. Post a work schedule near it, too, with a list of user names and contact information.

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