School system to sell old equipment, buses on eBay auction site
With nearly 130,000 students and more than 200 buildings, Prince George's County Public Schools has a lot of inventory — some of which is no longer used.
So school officials have decided to turn their trash into someone's treasure by selling it on the online auction site eBay.
"Each year, there's tons and tons of stuff that we're throwing away … in some cases nobody's going to ever use them again, or so we thought," said Keith Miles, director of purchasing and supply services for county schools.
Surplus school items will go on sale on eBay beginning next month.
Miles emphasized that the school system does not throw away or sell any items that are still in working condition. Items are kept until it no longer makes sense for the school system to repair them, he said.
The state requires the school system to retire school buses after 15 years, so officials plan to put some on the online auction block. Previously, the old school buses went to auction through a state contractor and brought in between $600 and $800 apiece. On eBay, old buses sell for as much as $3,000 or more, Miles said.
Miles also expects to sell old food service equipment and old janitorial equipment, such as floor buffers. Some outdated food service equipment items have been sitting in schools for years because no one wanted to throw them away, Miles said.
He does not yet have exact numbers of how many items will be sold, but expects to have a complete list in the next few weeks. He estimated between 40 and 50 old school buses will be sold this year.
The money will go toward the school system's reserve funds, which are used for emergencies. The school board nearly cleared out the fund this year in response to severely declining revenue from the county and state.
Miles estimates the school system will profit between $15,000 and $20,000 in the first year on smaller items and could make up to $250,000 on the sales of old school buses as they are retired.
To sell the items, the school system entered an agreement with the San Francisco-based InterSchola Trading Company LLC. The school system pays no upfront costs, and InterSchola is responsible for selling the items on eBay, including taking pictures of the items and arranging for them to be picked up once they are sold. InterSchola takes 48 percent of the sale for the first $1,000, and as the sale price of an item increases, they take a smaller portion of the proceeds. The company's average cut of an item sold is about 34 percent, according to InterSchola's president and founder Melissa Rich. Rich said many of the buyers of school items are individuals or small businesses, and she said some of the buyers have furnished an entire catering kitchen with items they have purchased online through InterSchola.
School systems have sold as much as $250,000 worth of equipment in a year, Rich said. The company works with school systems in California as well as eight school systems in Maryland, including Frederick, Baltimore, Howard and Montgomery counties.