The Washington Learning Source is a cooperative project of the nine Educational Service Districts in Washington State. Educational Service Districts (ESDs) in the state of Washington are political subdivisions of the state that are organized and operate in accordance with state statutes. ESDs provide a range of services to or on behalf of school districts and educational organizations.
ESD enabling legislation is codified in chapter 28A.310 of the Revised Code of Washington. Among other things, Chapter 28A.310 authorizes ESDs to enter into contracts and to provide informational and cooperative services and programs. ESDs, in cooperation with school districts, have explicit authority to establish joint purchasing programs. RCW 28A.310.180(3) and RCW 28A.320.080(3).
The Washington Learning Source issues competitive bids for products in accordance with Washington laws that govern public contracts for school districts. These laws are found in RCW 28A.335.190.
According to RCW 28A.335.190(2), if a school district is going to purchase furniture, equipment or supplies that cost more than $40,000, the district must use a competitive process to select the vendor they will purchase the equipment from. Districts may obtain quotes if the purchase will not exceed $75,000. If the cost to purchase equipment may exceed $75,000, school districts must prepare plans and specifications and make them available to interested vendors.
A school district that does not utilize a competitive process to procure equipment that costs more than $40,000, may be found to have violated state law. A school district, can however, avoid the costs associated with procuring its own competitive bid if the district signs an interlocal agreement with an ESD. This is reflected in the Interlocal Cooperation Act, codified in RCW 39.34. According to RCW 39.34.030(5)(b), a school district that has entered into an interlocal agreement with an ESD (or another public agency) is not obligated to comply with the notice requirements in RCW 28A.335.190 for bid solicitations, as long as the ESD (or public agency it signed an interlocal agreement with) complied with the statutory requirements for procuring a competitive bid and posted the bid solicitation on a web site established and maintained by a public agency or purchasing cooperative. WLS's Subscription Access Forum for membership to the WLS is such an interlocal agreement.
The Washington Learning Source issues competitive bids in accordance with applicable Washington laws and makes its competitive bid available to school districts and other educational or public agencies who want to purchase products for the price and terms set forth in a WLS contract. School districts, educational organizations and public agencies are encouraged to review their board policies and regulations to ensure they are acting within their own legal authority when they purchase from a WLS contract.