A large Ontario school board will deploy hundreds of laser printers to elementary and secondary students and staff through a four-year agreement with Dell Canada that was announced Tuesday.

Kawartha

Pine Ridge DSB, a former Xerox Canada customer, said it would install 1,250 Dell machines, including its 5100CN, 5200 and 1700 models across its 82 grade school and 16 high schools, as well as its board office. The two organizations said approximately 37,000 students and staff would be using the printers every day. Dell also won a desktop contract for Kawartha Pine Ridge as part of a separate tender last fall.

Ron Plaizier, the district school board’s CIO, said Kawartha Pine Ridge DSB had opted for a self-maintenance arrangement, which means it would avoid the costs of having printers serviced under warranty.

“We determined it would be beneficial or advantageous to have our existing technicians trained on that equipment,” he said. “You get away from the finger-pointing that goes on in technology – ‘It’s not the printer problem, it’s a network problem,’ – and from our perspective, it’s better service for our schools. Our technicians can identify the problem, order the parts directly and fix them.”

Besides a lower acquistion cost, Plaizier said the school board was intriguided by Dell software which alerts customers when ink and toner is getting low and allowing new supplies to be ordered online or over the phone and delivered the next business day.  John Tyler, imaging brand manager, Dell Canada, said the Dell Ink Management (DIM) system has been a major lure since Dell formally entered the printer market a few years ago. 

“If you’re a student in dorm room in front of our desk, or purchaser in front of one of 50 desks, you can fulfill your inventory,” he said. 

Plaizier said Kawartha Pine Ridge periodically tests the market to see if it can find a supplier to better meet the variety of requirements across the school board.

“There are real low-end needs in a classroom where there may be three to four computers in a classroom that need to print to a printer,” he said. “Usually they would acquire an ink-jet, which can be costly from consumables point of view.”

Dell has monochrome printers that will meet those needs, Plaizier said, as well as high-volume printers for computer leabs with 20 to 30 PCs. The number of printers varies by school, but an elementary school, he said, may have one printer in each of its 15 classrooms, one in the library and one in the office area. High schools may have even more, if they have multiple computer labs.

Although still a relatively new entrant to printing and imaging, Tyler said the company has been making inroads in key target markets such as education, government and small and medium business. 

“The model we apply to our desktop notebook and storage lines of business transfers very readily to imaging line,” he said. “Administrators and students see the value in the direct model.”

Kawartha Pine Ridge DSB technicians recently completed their training on the Dell machines, Plaizier said.

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