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Printers express concerns about School Board's plan

April 17, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Three representatives from the printing industry voiced concerns to the Washington County Board of Education on Tuesday about the school system's plans to revamp its outdated print shop.

The School Board has proposed spending $300,000 to move its 25-year-old print shop from the central office to an unused welding room at Washington County Technical High School. That cost includes renovating a room at the school and buying digital presses.

William Blum, the school system's chief operating officer, has said a new digital printing facility could be used to consolidate printing jobs among local governments. He also has said the new printing shop could be used for instruction - students could do internships and learn about managing and repairing digital presses.

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Sam Wright of Tri-State Printing, Jeff Smith of The Printing Place, and Barry Martin of CopyQuik, told the School Board they believed the school system's plans to revamp its in-house print shop are not well thought out for financial and educational purposes.

Wright, who said other representatives couldn't make it to the meeting, said the printing business locally and nationally isn't doing well.

"I wasn't aware the printing program still existed at the technical high school," he said.

Wright said not knowing about the school system's printing curriculum shows a lack of communication between the school system and the printing industry.

Wright said the printing industry is a capital intensive industry. Since digital presses cost money to maintain, the School Board will have to commit to the annual high cost of equipment upgrades, he said.

"One of the printers you'll be competing against is the state prison system, but unfortunately you'll be competing against other printers as well," he said.

Wright suggested the representatives from the printing industry could serve as an advisory council on the print shop.

"We have no plan right now to compete with local printers," Blum said. "We're not competing directly. We're just consolidating a small volume."

Arnold Hammann, the school system's supervisor of enrichment, said the printing room that exists at the technical high school will remain as the training ground for students, but they will have the opportunity as seniors to view and work in the digital shop to learn new skills.

Dennis McGee, the school system's director of facilities management, said the present print shop's working conditions are horrible.

"Our goal was to modernize the facility and equipment for use if we're going to achieve efficiency," he said.

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