Monday, April 26, 2010

Fighting Privatization

These signs are all over East Grand Rapids... traditionally a Republican area.

No Privatize

It's important to show that not everyone agrees with the idea that school services should be privatized.

District officials verified that, in the quest to find $1.9 million of reductions in the $28 million budget, they have entertained the possibility of private custodial services. "It is true we have requested and received bids knowing there is a market out there that could potentially drastically cut the costs of our custodial services," said Kevin Philipps, assistant superintendent of business.

Supporters, however, say there is little evidence to support savings. "They do so much more than just clean," said Kerr. "They do minor plumbing fixes, change florescent light bulbs, fix lockers – stuff a cleaning service wouldn’t do." The district would likely have to bolster maintenance staff, he said, noting that the department has been frugal. "We added no staff when facilities expanded, even with the new gym and expanded pool and that is just this building," said Kerr. "All the buildings got air-conditioning in the last few years, but there aren’t any new cooling guys."

Other arguments floated against privatizing custodial service include the layoff impact on the local economy, potential high turnover of new staff, emotional impact on students losing trusted employees, and student safety.

Unfortunately many Michigan school districts are facing this choice this year. Whether it be transportation, custodial or food services, hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs are on the line. EGR custodians are putting together a proposal for concessions. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't. East is one of the wealthier districts around and they just might find a way to save these jobs. Others will not be so fortunate.

One thing is for certain though.

"We are doing everything we can to stretch every dollar and getting into some areas we don’t want to get into," said Philipps. "It is time for the State of Michigan to step up and find solutions."

Republicans are proposing more cuts to your budget, will that help?

Didn't think so.