NoCal district looks to privatize more services

Making each dollar in the district stretch has become a priority for North Callaway school board members. To help with this, one move currently under consideration by the board is to contract out the district’s custodial and transportation services.

Superintendent Bryan Thomsen said when the district switched to a private food company, Opaa! Food Management, Inc., for the 2010-11 school year, it saved the district about $50,000. Now the board is looking into also privatizing the custodial/maintenance and transportation services, a decision that will be discussed and voted on at the next board meeting on April 21.

Thomsen explained that privatizing the custodial and transportation operations would be advantageous, because the companies that specialize in their particular fields can offer more efficient services at a lower cost to the district. If the board votes to contract out these services, the current employees in these operations would then have to be screened and interviewed by the companies that take over. They would no longer be employees of the district but, if retained, employees of the individual companies.

“The companies that we have looked at have talked a lot about keeping the consistency of employees,” said Jenny Bondurant, board member.

She said the companies realize it’s best to keep on as many local people as possible.

“We want to take care of our district’s employees as best we can,” Bondurant said.

Board Member Patsy Austin said the companies may require extensive training for the employees they retain.

“They do not plan on weeding out anyone, but they will train them in the way they feel is best to do their jobs,” Austin said.

The board met for a special budget work session on March 29 where it looked at budget projections for the upcoming year. The board decided to take bids from custodial and transportation companies, numbers that will be discussed at the next meeting to ascertain if the district will save as much as the estimates indicate.

“Our main focus is education,” Thomsen said. “If there’s a company out there that can do some of the services that we’re providing more efficiently, then we need to look at that and see if that’s an option.”

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