Back to school shopping is typically an exciting rite of renewal in America. New shoes and clothes; backpacks and school supplies. The preparation sets an upbeat tone for a new year.
But imagine if you had to shop for the entire school district, the biggest one in the state, and in the midst of times as uncertain and fraught as these.
That’s the situation DMPS Purchasing Agent Mark Mattiussi finds himself in, and he’s doing his best to equip the district’s 60+ schools for come what may.
It’s easier to get someone else to talk about Mattiussi’s remarkable requisitioning than to ask him about how he does it in the midst of an ongoing emergency that’s rendered even the federal government unable to stockpile vital equipment and supplies.
“I have seen the progress made since the beginning of the pandemic and supply management’s response in keeping the district supplied,” said Tom Sheehy, Materials Manager for Food & Nutrition at the DMPS Central Stores. “I think it is important to recognize the tireless effort Mark Mattiussi has made to source and procure PPE (personal protective equipment) products since early in the crisis. He has done a remarkable job. Having been involved in supply management for 40 years, I have an understanding of the obstacles Mark has faced and overcome. The district is very fortunate to employ someone of his talent, tenacity and work ethic.”
How does he do it under circumstances where not even the federal government has managed to maintain adequate stockpiles of basic PPE?
“You plan and order to the maximum as possible, try to think of the different scenarios and chart a course,” said Mattiussi. “You make corrections when new information becomes available or changes occur and try to employ as much common sense as possible.”
That last item is never in short supply.
Mattiussi’s masterpiece portrait of a pandemic supply chain is painted on spreadsheets in tones and shades of digital thermometers, face shields, antimicrobial coating, spray bottles, isolation gowns and Plexiglas barriers.
None of the stuff that’s piling up at Central Stores this summer was in the district budget and it’s not cheap.
“My estimate would be that we’ve spent approximately $250K just for PPE, cleaning supplies and building equipment,” said DMPS Chief Financial Officer Shashank Aurora. “That amount’s increasing every day.”
Funding sources have included FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) and the CARES (Coronavirus Aid Relief Economic Security) Act.
Once everything required is acquired, the best case scenario is that Mattiussi either gets to return some or it sits in a corner gathering dust because it’s not needed. But you know how it is with back to school shopping. You never get enough of it.