Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Latest serving bids could save $1.5 million

In case you missed it, here is the Courier Times article on the latest outsourcing bids courtesy of Rachel Canelli . . .

Add another $1.5 million to the $30-plus million Neshaminy could save by outsourcing support staff jobs over the next five years. The latest bids for grounds keeping and food services released Monday would provide more than $1.5 million in savings over five years, according to administrators. Officials previously stated the district could save more than $30 million over the next five years if transportation and custodial services are outsourced.

"We're keeping the public informed so, hopefully, the community and the unions have an idea what the district has in front of it," said board President Ritchie Webb. "Our first obligation is to continue to negotiate, but we're also thinking about the $7.6 million deficit facing us and our commitment to the community to stay under Act 1 limitations and our own personal goal of a zero tax increase."

You can read the full article by clicking here.


acs said...

Bravo to the board for the work they are doing. This continues to be real tangible efforts on behalf of taxpayers. You do not see boards this talented EVER.
Keep it up. Do what you need to do with the CBA effort, .... then outsource and save $31.5M. It now makes absolutely zero sense to save almost nothing by settling the NESPA contract. Frank Farry is another uniformed pol with no value to our community whatsoever. He coolects a paycheck period. Hope he and the unions love talkkng to eachother while the board and concerned people solve real problems in Middletown and Neshaminy SD.

JS said...

Mr. O'Connor, what services are included in the "Optional" section? Also the campuses listed are Neshaminy High, Maple Point, Neshaminy Middle (huh?), and Eisenhower. Where are Sandburg and Poquessing? Hoover? Seems to me this bid isn't complete and would ultimately cost us far more than what it shows on paper.

There is a reason almost 0 school districts outsource grounds, and it's because you can't predict the weather and what services (and when) you will need them.

People seem to think this is just about cutting grass. If you have grass cutting service for your home, do they water it for you? Fix areas? Weed? Shovel your snow in the winter? (Grounds, Custodial, and Maintenance all deal with snow removal for Neshaminy, but I have yet to see where this service is included in the outsourcing bids)

I made a point of asking the head of grounds at another district how much "treatment" it takes to keep up a field. He said a single field takes about $10,000 in pesticide/herbicide/Fertilizer. Some (like field hockey) take more because you have to keep it in even better shape. If you don't keep up with it as soon as you apply anything you'll end up killing half of the "green" stuff and soon it is a dirt field.

If you take $10,000 times the 9 fields at the high school alone you get $90,000 in just "treatment" for one campus. Since Townscapes total bid price was $127,000 that leaves them $37,000 to cut all the fields and treat the other campuses. Seems to me we won't be getting much for our bids.

I won't even get into how idiotic the Food Service issue is, because where does the $55,000 profit come from? The loss of control of what is in and how much the cost of a school lunch.

These don't seem as clear cut as other bids and I suspect would end up costing us far more (which conveniently never be told to the district).

William O'Connor said...

JS, Why would you question Neshaminy Middle? Until that property is disposed of, we are responsible for maintaining it. One of the burdens of having a non-performing asset.

Outside of the facilities mentioned specifically in this bid, any other buildings are handled by the maintenance staff.

These bid specs are written based on the existing contracts we have with our support staff. Everything from the anticipated frequency of lawn cuts to watering is the same in the bids as they are in the Grounds Keeper contract. It is an apples-to-apples comparison.

The Grounds Keeping bid seems as clear cut to me as any of the others. I do agree with you that the Food Services bid is different in that they are cost neutral to the District, and I consider revenue to be something not truly in the vendor's control. That is something to be considered when/if have to vote on outsourcing.

Regarding the "Optional" section, I don't have my notes handy. I'll have to get back to you on that.

nostradamus said...

My predictions:

* Outsourcing will be the path for all support jobs except for Food Services.

* The formal decision will be made long before the June budget vote, most likely in late April.

* NESPA will file a law suit to block the board's attempt to outsource. A judge will eventually rule in favor of the board.

* NFT President Louise Boyd will approach Board President Ritchie Webb seeking concessions since there will be new found money resulting from outsourcing.

* Prior to their last days as Neshaminy employees, the Support Staff will vote out Mindy Anderson as NESPA President.

* Not content with budget reductions to date, Larry Pastor will continue to demand a zero budget increase no matter what programs must be cut.

* Not content with the educational status quo, Steve Rodos will demand an increase in educational spending.

* Mr. O'Connor will ask the Board for more computers in elementary classrooms. That measure will be voted down faster than his request for remote attendance.

* In an effort to reduce costs, Representative Farry will negotiate with Mother Nature for less snow. Hurricane Schwartz will demand that Farry keeps his nose out of his business.

Consider yourselves warned.

acs said...

Nostra, Not your best effort. You are not losing your sense of humor are you? We count on you.

William O'Connor said...

JS, an update on the Optional section . . . The amounts budgeted center around leaf removal and special treatment of certain playing fields for crabgrass and weed control, fertilizing, etc.

nostradamus said...

I'm lacking new material because people like Pastor, Boyd and Linder haven't been speaking much. I can't even pick on Rodos about full time kindergarten because he doesn't talk about it any more. O'Connor hasn't made any wild new proposals to be shot down, and the new board members are about as exciting as watching paint dry.
You try predicting the end of the world and being funny. Not easy to do. Now on the other hand if Sarah Palin and Charlie Rangel were board members then I'd have enough material for a life time.

JS said...

So if we look at the RFP page we see we used to spend $97,000 in budget items which I can assume to mean seed, weed control, feritlizer etc. (Items which had to be bought year in and year out).

So instead we're going to spend $36k - leaf collection? What kind of field conditions are we going to suspect? I understand that we need to cut costs and the fields don't need to be professional grade, but cutting the treatments by 2/3s has got to have some effect.

I understand the salary/benefits issue, but there has to be some way to control those with out making kids go out and play on what amounts to weed/sand lots.

William O'Connor said...

JS, there is no loss in service incorporated in this RFP. Lawns will be cut with the same frequency, leaves will be raked regularly, weeds will be pulled, crabgrass destroyed. As I said previously, this is an apples-to-apples comparison with the current Grounds Keeping contract. All the same assumptions regarding duties (and frequency of those duties) are used. I promise you that our football players will not be running through overgrown bushes next year (if we go the route of outsourcing).

neshaminy4ever said...

I don't know about his humor but Nostradamus predictions look pretty realistic to me. I don't envy you or the other board members William. Controlling costs is long overdue in our district and you guys are making the difficult but right choices.

acs said...

Nostra, Keep it coming don't stop. I agree on the board.....where is Frank and the good ship lollipop???
The three new members may want to try actually SAYING somthing some day or even maybe asking a question. I sure hope they are at least thinking a lot :O)

JS said...

Ah the old "football will be fine" comment. I didn't think you would go there because of the fact that there are 11 other sports that play on grass (and add in the marching band as well). I'm sure this bid will make sure the stadium looks great, it's the other fields (9 at the high school) I'd be worried about.

I still don't understand how if we spend $97,000 a year now on supplies, that we won't spend even close to half that next year? Unless Townscapes does a lot better job buying more affordable products (an issue our Business Manager and Purchasing Department should be looked at if the case), then it only stands to reason they will provide less services (hence the lower cost).

I still don't understand the "frequency of duties" point. Wouldn't a permanent grounds person cut the grass when needed? This past summer on numerous walks I assure you I saw them cutting it more than once a week. I really think things are done much more often and competently than this bid reflects. I guess we'll just have to disagree on that point.

I still have yet to hear anything about snow removal (which custodial and grounds workers currently take care of) in either of the two bids. If all of this is "apples to apples" shouldn't those services be included?

C said...

The district can install an all sports turf surface in the stadium with some of the money they are saving by outsourcing. Now all boys and girls can compete in the stadium and grass maintenance and over use of the stadium will no longer be a problem can you imagine all sport being treated equal at Neshaminy.How can the board not outsource with all these savings how can NESPA compete

srodos said...

Welcome back. I have missed your predictions. I will not disappoint you. We have just learned that the computer ed courses in our 4th grade elementary schools is the equivalent of the kindergarten classes in many nearby NJ schools. My solution is to ask our certified teachers to volunteer to teach in the elementary school computer ed classes. This would be cost neutral and would benefit our students at the same time. By the way, full day kindergarten was the only expense that I asked the district to incur which was not covered by a corresponding expense that I wanted to eliminate. It would be worth it.

KClarinet said...

SRODOS said, "My solution is to ask our certified teachers to volunteer to teach in the elementary school computer ed classes."

I don't understand this suggestion. Could you please explain it in more detail?

srodos said...

It is my belief that NSD has more teachers in the classroom than are required by the current contract.
Rather than squeezing the administration to cut staffing which can not be done until next year (after another battle over school closing) it might be advantageous for some to volunteer to transfer to the elementary schools to teach computer education. It would be cost neutral and would solve the problem of a lack of a proper computer education class in the elementary schools

KClarinet said...

SRODOS, do you mean any certified teacher (regardless of certification)? Is that legal? Or do you mean teachers who are certified in tech-ed/computer ed, which would be legal if their certification is K-12 (I don't know if it is or not).

Apart from certification issues (which are state, not local or contractual requirements) I assume you know that, unless something has changed recently, there is currently no computer ed program in the Neshaminy elementary schools and never has been. The computer labs are programmed to support the core subjects, primarily reading, writing and math, not to teach computer skills, although some limited keyboarding and menu skills must certainly be learned to do the activities. The aides are hired to maintain the labs and (technically) aren't supposed to teach anything, although in practice they probably deliver most of the instruction about how to actually use the computers to respond to the Josten's programming. Any content-related instruction is supposed to come from the regular classroom teacher who accompanies his/her class to the lab. Your idea sounds as though it would actually create a program and curriculum that has never before existed in Neshaminy. Am I misunderstanding your suggestion? Maybe we understand "computer education" differently.

Don't misunderstand me - I would welcome and enthusiastically support genuine computer ed in the elementary schools, but it's not what the labs are set up or used for currently.

srodos said...

You are not misunderstanding my suggestion.It would create a new program similar to the curriculum set forth in the NJ elementary schools which were designed by residents of the NSD. The current set-up does not seem to be accomplishing its objectives.

march said...

Our computer program is horrible. I teach at a middle school in Chester County and our students are designing web pages, powerpoint presentation, and doing autocad. My daughter at Sandburg is learning to type.

If we cannot do anything about the elementary school computer program, why can't we at least have the middle school computer teacher do something useful. Paying a full-time middle school computer teacher to teach the students typing is a waste of her skills and my daughter's time or didn't we hire real computer teachers.

abc123 said...

It's apparent the board will go the direction of outsourcing. Do you ever lose sleep knowing that your decision will lead to hundreds of employees losing their jobs?

acs said...

I see in BCCT that just about everything except Joe's Jag is on the table for cutting....Sorry couldn't resist.
Everything but the elephant in the room...Support Staff outsourcing.

I assume William the published list is to enrage the citizenry to come to meetings with pitchforks demanding that little johnny's middle school lacrosse is preserved or first grader suzie's elementary guidance counselor who is helping her plan to be a brain surgeon is protected.
I will have to make next meeting to see the fireworks start...I am surprise NHS Football wasn't on the list that would make for a fun meeting.

William O'Connor said...

One of these days, ACS . . . one of these days - It'll be double-secret probation for you!

Last night's list isn't a stunt to get parents engaged, but I will be publishing that list shortly because I want to get parents involved now instead of them showing up in June to complain that we are trying to sneak something through. I was very disappointed last night that there weren't any parents at the meeting other than the usual attendees.

If you do come to the next meeting, you MUST come up and introduce yourself. I promise to protect your anonymity.

acs said...

I am very disturbed that parents with kids in the schools are not there. They have the most at stake because it is there well being and their high taxes vs all the old guys that just complain about taxes and offer nothing postitive. If teachers and support staff get what they want parents lose both ways.

William O'Connor said...

ABC123 - Many things keep me up at nights when it comes to this district, most importantly educating our students. Yes I know what is at stake regarding support staff jobs if we outsource. Have you thought about what happens if we have to cut educational programs just to make budget?