The proposed privatization of the West Bloomfield School District’s custodial and transportation services is expected to come up before the district’s Board of Education at its Monday, April 30 meeting.
School Board President Bruce Tobin said that contrary to popular belief, the board has not yet decided to move forward with privatization.
“We’re expecting a recommendation from the budget committee on whether to privatize or not,” Tobin said. “The committee has been reviewing bids, doing its due diligence on proposals and meeting with the bargaining units.”
This comes after a special board meeting was held on Tuesday, April 17 to discuss potential privatization.
During that meeting, Deputy Superintendent Thomas Goulding gave a presentation outlining the district’s reasons for researching outsourcing the transportation and custodial services.
He also notified those in attendance that on Wednesday, April 11 and Thursday, April 12, the district interviewed transportation and custodial vendors to clarify bids submitted for consideration.
In a Powerpoint presentation, Goulding pointed out that the district’s fund balance ended up at $551,562 on June 30 last year, and that it’s estimated to be at $947,736 on June 30 this year.
He added that not only is student enrollment declining, but financial assistance from the state also has been reduced by $729 per-pupil since the 2008-09 school year. He also pointed out that the district’s mandatory pension rate continues to rise, with its current rate at 24.46 percent expected to jump to 27.37 percent.
Goulding added that the district already outsources for services such as substitute employees, skilled trades and snow removal.
The presentation noted potential savings through proposed bids from four potential transportation service providers, such as Durham and First Student, and five different custodial providers, such as GCA Services Group and Enviro Clean.
According to Tobin, privatization could save the district as much as $6 million over the next three years.
While acknowledging the positives of outsourcing, the presentation also addressed the disadvantages, including re-establishing relationships with the school community, as well as employee displacement and declining morale and perceived quality of service by the vendor.