Printing vs copying vs paperless classroom

The leadership at YPICS has pursued a printer and copier machine policy with an eye towards access, cost and durability. I’d like to discuss costs and efficiencies of each of the print technologies, and make a case for limiting printing as much as possible, in order to limit costs and use technology in an eco-friendly fashion. I believe strongly that we have a duty to be conscientious stewards of our natural resources, and moving away from paper to digital printing is a big step in that direction.


My goal is to put a black and white laser printer in each classroom, and at least one laser color copier at each school site. We typically have two copiers each at the middle schools, and as a rule we purchase Xerox and HP devices for ease of support and to limit the supply diversity. I have over 20 years experience managing networked printers, copiers and wide format plotters at Kinkos and UCLA, so I tend to be a bit set in my ways when it comes to vendors and laser printers. 🙂 However, we have deviated from color laser copiers due to tight budgets, so we still have two thermal wax color copiers that I hope to say good-bye to very soon.

I avoid ink jets due to the high cost of ink and the rapid deterioration of print quality over the length of a print run. As such, our tech support team does not support ink jet printers. I know that they are very inexpensive to buy, but they are meant for home use and do not hold up well in a crowded network environment such as ours. If you choose to buy one and use it in your classroom or office, the YPICS tech support team is not responsible for installation, supply or maintain of the device, nor take any responsibility if the supplies are spent in error, such as a driver issue or someone prints to it who should not.

We also have a wide format 8 color plotter at the high school which gives us the ability to print banners and posters


It is important to understand that the copiers have a much lower cost structure than workgroup printers, and running lots of prints on our little printers costs us much more than on our copiers.

We have the following printers in our inventory:

  • HP 401 LaserJet
    • Purchase cost: $250 – 400 (getting cheaper since August)
    • Toner cost: $35, average 2700 impressions ~$0.0127 per impression
    • Paper cost:
  • Xerox 4510
    • Purchase cost: $1500-1750
    • Toner cost: $50 – 180(high capacity), average 2000 – 10000 impressions ~$.018 per impression
  • HP 2055 Laserjet
    • Purchase cost: $700
    • Toner cost: $20, average 2000 impressions ~$0.01 per impression

We also have one remaining HP 2015, but I hope to replace the poor beast soon 🙂

We have a district wide service contract with SoCalOffice, which costs us about $800 a month, which covers supplies and maintenance. We have about 40 printers in the network, so our our supply costs are lower than if you buy the toner from Amazon, but the included impressions count is lower, about 66,000 impressions. This comes out to roughly 1,000 prints per printer per month. Each click beyond the allowance is charged at .15 each. We get charged overages on a quarterly basis which has been averaging an additional $1000 a quarter.

We have the following xerox copiers in our inventory:

As you can see, printing more than occasionally on our classroom printers has large cost implications for our budget. These overages get charged to the Office Supplies budget quarterly, which makes it a challenge to manage supply requests when their budget reserve is disappearing. Similarly, the BCCS office is going through a pallet of paper a month, which was my weekly order when I ran the Kinkos at Hollywood & Vine. In other words, we are spending paper at one school at a quarter of the volume of a retail print shop with 10 copiers. A ream of paper costs about $5 each, 8 – 10  reams to a box, 40 boxes to a pallet, with a cost of about $2000 a month per school site.

Going Paperless

We have an extensive cloud and web services infrastructure, and we have between 12 & 15 computers in each classroom, over 1000 computers throughout the entire YPICS family. We pay about $40,000 per year for device management and engineering support, and have over a million dollars invested in equipment and network infrastructure, plus we have staff dedicated to maintaining that equipment. While going completely paperless is something of a unicorn in the modern office environment, wished for but never seen, we have the tools to cut down on using so much paper.


  • Teacher websites: You can put syllabi, handouts, assignments and links to resources on your teacher website. Anything you project or print, you can make available on your website for students to access, both in class and at home. If your projector dies, you can direct students to your website and keep on teaching.
  • Google: All students and staff have access to Google Apps, especially Drive (formerly Docs). Students can write their assignments in Drive and share the results with you, and never a tree is harmed. This also allows students to build a library of work to show mastery over time.
  • Google Classroom: If websites is not your thing, Google Classroom is an easy-to-use alternative.The only issue I see with Google Classroom is a lack of parent engagement, transparency and publicity, but it is a very effective tool.


I challenge each of you to find a way to eliminate paper use in your classroom. Make it an ecological challenge to your students, or a grade level challenge to cut costs. I would much rather our budget be spent on field trips and authentic learning experiences than on paper and print overages.