Saturday, December 5, 2009

Weighing the options

While the School Board continues its negotiations with the support staff workers of NESPA, it has also begun to collect information regarding savings through outsourcing some of the support functions to outside vendors.

The first set of functions under review for outsourcing are the janitorial services for both first and second shift. According to the District's Negotiation Website, the potential for savings for outsourcing just these functions is slightly under $9 million over three years.

It should be emphasized that these savings represent the difference between the costs associated with outsourcing and the Board's current offer to NESPA. If you consider the difference between outsourcing and the NESPA counter offer to the Board, the savings of outsourcing is significantly greater than $9 million.

The Board has not set a deadline for when (or if) it will decide on whether or not to outsource support functions, but it has stated that negotiations with NESPA representatives will continue.

The Board has posted the full results of vendor bidding for janitorial services on its Negotiation Website.


JS said...

Ok, well I know these details make some time, I hope you can answer these questions down the road when you get a chance.

Do the bids by Pritchard include the building being open on Saturdays? This happens 95% of the school year and is currently done as overtime in the NESPA contract.

Is the district going to sell the equipment/infrastructure (tools, floor scrubbers, mops, buckets, etc) if services are out-sourced?

What will the contracted redresses be so that the School District is not held hostage by substandard service?

I'm guessing that the most significant savings come from the fact that the salaries, benefits, and pension (if any) for Pritchard will be far less than what the custodial staff gets being direct employees of the District.

Does the Board have any idea what the cost would be to restart in-house custodial services again if the outsourcing doesn't work out as planned.

Let it be known that the Custodial equipment is far more miniscule than the Transportation department. I hope when/if the Board entertains bids for Transportation services that they also figure out how much reinstating those services would cost. Buses are quite expensive after all.

acs said...

"The total savings offered by Pritchard Industries over three years for both first and second shift janitorial services is $8,999,464".

Mindy Mindy, OH Mindy, What have you done?? Great job representing your members.

This is about as close to a NO BRAINER as I have ever seen. There is no way Joe Paradise and the board can now avoid doing this. There is not any more reason to continue negotiations with NESPA with this kind of savings. I had no idea we were overpaying THAT much for custodial services. That is more obscene than the NFT contract. My suggestion is let Mindy settle for the rest now but definitely you have to outsource this:
"the district has now received and evaluated the bids for second shift janitorial services for all School District buildings. This is one of several support staff functions that will be reviewed in light of third-party contracting options. Taxpayers will now demand this and you really have no choice given the looming 2010 budget deficit.

charlie said...

I'm very experience in various aspect of Outsourcing, and the saving numbers do not surprise me. I would caution there is added cost associated to the management of the outsourcing company that should be accounted for// Regardless, Net - Net it will be a significant savings/

acs said...

JS, Great points and questions all. However let's say when all is said and done NSD gets to only $5M in annual savings vs $9Min janitorial services. That is still amazing. We had a $14M deficit last year. Do we want to cut more children's programs? Or do we do prudent management of the budget by outsourcing non-core, i.e. non-educational jobs to cover our future deficits given the pending NFT contract or running without one for years as seems likely.
You are correct it is costly to "undo" outsourcing so the board needs to do lots of homework on this before pulling the trigger.

Kudos to the board for showing
courage and obviously thinking outside the box. The NSD board may be the best one NSD has ever seated especially with new directors to join on Monday.

William O'Connor said...

Wonderful points raised by all. I don't doubt that the projection of savings will likely decrease if we get deeper into negotiations but that the savings will still be highly significant. Hopefully this won't be necessary.

csld said...

I find this whole thing to be extremely sad,I would like to know what is going to happen when all these people are out of work or at a much lower pay rate.and can not pay there taxes because we are not only talking about Neshaminy employees but we are also talking about Neshaminy tax payers.Food Service went up for bid this week and this is a service that does not take any tax dollars and is not costing the tax payers any money,so is this all about what money that can be made no matter what.Acs you are 100 percent right we have gotten very poor representation.William I am hoping you are right and we will not have to get to this point.

Levittowner said...

If we wern't cutting programs for the children that would be one thing, but we are..and I don't want to see more programs cut next year.
I certainly don't want to see someone lose their job, but I'm a parent and my children's needs are first and foremost in my mind.

acs said...

You and the Full time members need to stand up asap before it is too late. It is likely once the BCCT publishes the savings it will be impossible to go back and the janitorial staff will be outsourced with jobs but paying for their benefits. So if all of you are so loyal to NSD as you all say then take the deal the board has offered. Obviously as the board has shown they are serious and now that they have REAL bids there is NO WAY you get Mindy's demands ridiculous demands. Remember everyone in NSD will have to pay for healthcare even the NFT-they just don't know it yet. Again it is obvious you all are being damaged by your leadership.
By the way even though Food Service is self funding there are still much cheaper ways to do it and once the SB get comfortable with outsourcing then it gets easier to do.

JS said...

ACS, it's $3 million a year in Janitorial savings ($9 million over 3). If it was $9 million a year in savings even I would be yelling to do it (and wondering why those in charge of administration in the district let us become so wasteful)

So that leads me to this...

I do have a blunt question for Mr. O'Connor (which I don't know if he'll be able to answer or not, but I hope he will not edit it completely so that others may voice their opinions). Other than Kadri (who had well publicized clashes with certain Board/Citizen members) we have not had an change over in the upper level of administration. If the District is in such disarray, why are teachers and support staff the only ones losing jobs?

I hope you will not edit these next few points because I'm not trying to attack the people, just posing questions.

We had a high school building (and numerous others around the district) decaying to the point massive renovations/construction were needed. (yes many of the buildings are older, but still) We are looking to save $3 million a year in janitorial costs. We are juggling the budget every year while simple items (tissues) are eliminated and necessary ones (desk and chairs) are replaced in some cases only when they become safety issues.

It is the School Board's job to make final decisions based on what they think the community wants, but it is the job of the administration below them to run the district on a day to day basis. After all they are getting pay/raises/benefits/pension to do so.

Why if we have all of these issues going on are those at the bottom of the ladder being the only ones forced out? When half the responsibilities they over-see are out-sourced will certain people's pay be cut?

I won't point out a name, but go to and search in Neshaminy for "less than Bachelor's" education level. It's not a personal attack, but why if things haven't seem to go well are we still keeping the same hands at the wheel.

The last time I checked there wasn't a thing such as "tenure" for administrators.

I will say again I don't want to call people directly, but just don't understand why questioning of those running the day to day operations we currently deem too expensive to continue as is aren't being called to the carpet.

acs said...

"it's $3 million a year in Janitorial savings ($9 million over 3). If it was $9 million a year in savings even I would be yelling to do it (and wondering why those in charge of administration in the district let us become so wasteful)

Read my first post again.

"The total savings offered by Pritchard Industries over three years for both first and second shift janitorial services is $8,999,464".
This is what I quoted from the NSB website.
Did you read my comments before you commented?
my other comment in advertently included annual in it.

acs said...

JS By the way I THINK $9M savings over three years it incredible and worth doing and it tells me that like the NFT contract debacle the prior board and adminstrators have abused their positions to benefit workeers unions at the expense of taxpayers. Not the current board as you all know I am very supportive of their actions to remedy the incompetence of prior boards.

JS said...

I'm not saying the savings aren't significant, but we shouldn't fly blindly into a decision.

After all the recent construction project at the high school was "supposed" to save us something like $25 - $50 million. How did that turn out? At least we got a building after that.

If we outsource it's akin to selling your house and going back to renting. After the savings we thought we'd realize by doing such don't show up we then want to buy again but no longer have the equity of owning to complete the deal.

I personally would want the Board/District to publicly state if certain areas are outsourced which administrative positions will stay, and if they will take a pay cut since they will have less responsibilities.

csld said...

Acs I am not a full time employee and as far as you telling me to stand up,how do I do this.This is what we are being told the board wants to be able to hire and fire who ever they want and whenever they want.Also the members do not like that they are hearing that the board is also stating that they can contract out at anytime.Which by the way has always been the case for food service I do not understand your comment about food service ,like I said they are self supporting so how would it be cheaper if the board is not paying for their services.If my co-workers and I could take the deal the board have offered we would sign it right this minute.I know everyone has to pay for benefits my spouse pays for his benefits and has done so for a few years now.I have told many custodians that I know that it is better to pay for a portion of your benefits than losing your job.As far as being loyal to NSD I love my job I really like the kids.You are 100 percent right about when this hits the Courier the residents will be all for contracting out.This is a hugh amount and I am sure it is only a drop in the bucket compared to what it will for transportation.

acs said...

William Did you read letter form AFT president in BCCT? This really demonstrates the real problem with the teachers...they really must be unaware of the real world when their union pres insists that they deserve what they are demanding in the NSD.

KClarinet said...

Does anyone know if Pritchard employees have a union and a collective bargaining agreement? Is the labor status (vis a vis unions and CBAs) of the companies submitting bids for any of the support service contracts part of the bid application?

JS said...

To go with my other comments earlier, why are we looking to cut hundreds of jobs when we have an single administrator being compensated $150k to be in charge of a mere 60 kids at the Tawanka Learning Center?

There are currently 7 administrators just across the parking lot. Is it not possible for 1 of them to occasionally look in on those 60 students?

srodos said...

If you Google Pritchard Industries you will find that they have some labor issues in Texas.

csld said...

According to the headline of todays article in the courier they are non union.

acs said...

I am starting to think this board is losing control of the message and its responsibility to the community. I really woner where all this is headed now.

KClarinet said...

The reporters don't write the headlines, an editor does. The article doesn't say one way or the other.

KClarinet said...

To srodos:

I did Google them, but I guess I didn't go far enough or followed a different link path. I found Pritchard but nothing about labor relations there. I tried to email the contact address they gave on their website but it bounced back undeliverable. Do you have a link handy to the information you mentioned?

srodos said...

There are many New Jersey school districts that appear to use the services of Pritchard Industries. Since I have no personal knowledge of them I would hope that the School Board has investigated any problems that arose with other districts. In particular there are references to week end coverage in buildings. This concern has been raised by others.
The article to which I referred is a union posting located at
It refers to how they treat workers and of course is subject to interpretation and two sides to the same story.

KClarinet said...

Well, I went back and found the link about Pritchard's union problems in Houston. Following back to the original story, which is very brief with few details, it seems that a contract exists between the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and a group of five commercial cleaning companies operating in the Houston area, one of which is Pritchard Industries. The long and short of the story (in the Houston Chronicle on November 20, 2009) is that the union had agreed to an extension of its contract with four of the five - the exception aparently being Pritchard, which an SEIU spokesman said had refused to join the others at the bargaining table.

There is nothing in the Chronicle since then about further developments, and there's no way to tell from this article whether the contract is with only the local workers, or if SEIU has a collective bargaining agreement with its workers nationwide, or even whether Pritchard is actually dissociating itself from the contract and the SEIU entirely.

Unless something really important is missing in the Chronicle's brief account (which is very possible), it seems obvious that the possibility could easily exist that this kind of negotiation might end up happening here if Pritchard (or substitute any other service provider with a CBA with its workers) were providing Neshaminy's janitorial (or other) services. In such a case, the Neshaminy Schood Board would have little if any influence over how the situation was managed. Any job actions would leave the district a mere bystander.

This may not be sufficient reason to hold back on the whole idea of outsourcing, especially for its enthusiasts, but it's one that I don't see being discussed at all. All I've heard are figures of potential savings which, however vital in Neshamniny's present economic straits, may or may not turn out in the course of time to be real. In my opinion, some attention to details like this of the company's management history seems warranted, because any problems of the past could come back to bite the district in the future.

acs said...

As I said I think the board should not have just thrown the bids out there without a strategy posted on how the board of how they would further investigate and what criteria they would use to make an outsourcing decision. Now it just looks like a fear tactic.
It would be better if board provided more explanation around it and had more facts about pros and cons not jsut savings. The community needs to be aware of all that information before the baord makes a decision. This is a big change and I know we need to save money but it needs to be done thoughtfully. Many of the bloggers have brought up things that I didn't think of about current operation vs a third party.

srodos said...

The article to which I referred was posted by SEIU which is the Houston union dealing with janitors. The story told of an employee who appeared to have been subjected to workplace bullying by her supervisor. She had been given extra work which she completed by working more hours. When she requested to be paid for her time she was fired. Obviously two sides to every story. My hope is that all scenarios have been explored by our School Board. It would not be the first time that additional monies were spent over and above a contracted amount, which may turn a savings into an expense.