School In-plants Achieve Straight-A Performance
School district in-plants provide valuable support to their schools, allowing teachers to focus on student achievement.
By Bob Neubauer
Public school has changed a lot since you were a kid. I don't just mean the addition of computers into the classroom nor the lax dress codes that would make your eyes pop. These days, many schools are specializing in specific subjects and allowing students to choose schools based on their own interests.
For example, at Pinellas County Schools, in Largo, Fla., the district's 145 schools focus on such diverse topics as marine science, health care, computers and the arts. Students can pick the school with the curriculum they like best. This has led to some intra-district competition.
"The schools want to draw as many kids as possible, so they're putting together brochures," remarks Brian Chepren, supervisor of Central Printing Services at the district. The schools also produce posters and choice guides touting the programs they offer. All this has brought new business to the 14-employee in-plant.
Choice is also on the menu for the 30,000 students out at Colorado Springs District 11.
"Each school now is responsible for marketing itself to our public as a result of school choice," notes Joe Morin, manager of the 18-employee Production Printing department.
The in-plant's four-color work has increased as a result, helping to justify the recent addition of a four-color Ryobi press and a Mitsubishi computer-to-plate system.
Trends like school choice, shrinking school budgets and a transition of data to digital formats have impacted school district in-plants across the country. Some are more equipped to handle these changes than others.
In-plants serving school districts are a very diverse group, ranging in size from one employee to nearly 50. Some double as classrooms for graphic arts students; others are run just like businesses. Some receive mostly hard copy masters; others utilize online ordering systems. Some have gone all digital in their printing; at others offset thrives.