When this Board decided it would investigate the potential benefits of outsourcing some of our support functions, we knew it would be a controversial subject. Even though the cost savings opportunities make outsourcing seem like a no-brainer, we must pursue this option carefully while we're still in negotiations with NESPA. I don't think there is a Board member in the bunch that wants to see one of our employees lose their job, but ultimately we may have to weigh that consideration against cutting educational programs.
As we look deeper into the possibility of outsourcing, one thing we have learned is that some who oppose the idea will go to any lengths to make it look like a perilous journey through the gates of Hell. They have engineered made-up facts, and used fear tactics to scare and intimidate. Here is a partial collection of rumors that have been circulated throughout our district to sway the public against the notion of outsourcing - everyone one of them proven false.
Rumor - Outsourcing vendors use undocumented workers/illegal aliens to save costs.
Fact - Each vendor we considered proudly pointed out that their employees are subjected to thorough background checks and drug testing. In fact, those vendors put their employees through a more vigorous screening than Neshaminy does.
Rumor - Outsourcing companies only save costs in the initial 3-year contract, then they jack up the prices.
Fact - We contacted several districts who have outsourced for more than 3 years, and they confirmed that any cost increases beyond the initial contract were within the rate of inflation. Just to play it safe, we have asked the vendors to provide us with a 5-year bid and they continue to show us a significant savings opportunity.
Rumor - Council Rock admitted they made a mistake and is trying to bring transportation back in house.
Fact - Not true according to their superintendent, who told a Neshaminy official that they are pleased with their transportation vendor (First Student) which is the same company Neshaminy is considering.
Rumor - Council Rock is losing $1 million or more in unexpected costs of outsourced transportation.
Fact - Again, the CR superintendent has confirmed this to be completely untrue.
Rumor - Council Rock has asked Neshaminy if we would be willing to sell our buses back to them so they could bring transportation back in house.
Fact - No such request from Council Rock, or any other district, has been made.
My favorite argument against outsourcing is that those vendors are for-profit companies only out to make a buck. OMG, you mean that when their contract is up, they will put us through painful, protracted negotiations and demand compensation that this District cannot afford to pay? Really?
The best reason not to outsource is because we have many hard working, good employees who serve us and our children very well. Their work ethic or dedication isn't the problem. Financing our children's education is the challenge that is driving this issue. And if a settlement isn't reached with our Support Workers union soon, we may have little choice but to make a very difficult decision in order to offset next year's $7 million budget gap.
In case you missed Tuesday's Board meeting, here is a recap courtesy of the Courier Times.