Friday, March 17, 2000

Schools try online auctions

District to offer supplies on eBay

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WAYNESVILLE — The leaders at Wayne Local Schools are looking to get rid of some old equipment through a new approach: an Internet auction.

        The district plans to sell off its excess supplies on eBay, an online auction house. A few city and state governments use the Internet site this way, but eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove said Waynesville could be the first school district to venture into the cyberspace swap meet.

        “We want to see if the technology will work for us,” said Ron James, the district's chief financial officer.

        Instead of a small local auction, bidders from around the globe can raise the price on the district's excess supplies. The eBay sales should help bring in money for the cash-strapped district, he said.

        Wayne Local is in northern Warren County and does not have much industry to provide a tax base, said Sharon Jewell, school board president. The district must look at all possibilities to save money and to raise money, she added.

        The idea sprouted as Mr. James watched how a friend sold and bought items with ease over the eBay Internet site. The district could get rid of everything from outdated computers and unused desks, he reasoned.

        The eBay site,, started in 1995 as a way to sell and buy items. It has grown into the world's largest online auction site, with about 10 million registered users and about $10 million in transactions each day, Mr. Pursglove said.

        Everything from autographs to automobiles is bought and sold through the online service. Surplus equipment has been sold on the site by several cities, as well as a few Oregon state agencies, he said. It usually doesn't matter who does the selling, as long as that person is the rightful owner, Mr. Pursglove said.

        Other school districts, like Wayne in the past, have held public auctions to get rid of excess equipment. Mason City Schools has even donated some outdated supplies to parochial schools and community groups, Mason operations manager Darlene Hicks said.

        There is enough demand for items many would overlook that the eBay option is worth looking at, Mr. James said. Some of the district's old desks should attract plenty of bidders, he said. But the district could auction everything it doesn't use, from an old school bus to unused gen erators. The district will have to complete an inventory of its supplies beforehand.

        While the Wayne School Board approved the eBay plan at its meeting this week, the district is making sure it fits within state guidelines, Mr. James said. There are notification rules he must follow about auctioning public property; and while he doesn't expect any problems, he wants to review state laws to make sure the online suggestion doesn't violate any.


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