Speakers at Monday night's Davenport school board meeting shared concerns about outsourcing in the district.
Several people referenced Superintendent Art Tate’s request, as a possible way to save money, for letters of interest to provide services to the district that currently are done in-house. Classroom instruction is not included.
David Stage, a longtime custodian in the Davenport district and a member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), called the idea “nonsense.”
“We don’t have a company big enough in our city to come in and outsource us,” he said.
“What about the people that you harm? …. It’s nonsense to even think about outsourcing because outsourcing, all that does is bring in management — management that we have here.
“So that tells me we need new management? That’s what you’re telling us?” Stage asked.
Debbie DeFoe of Davenport had spoken with representatives of several other Iowa school districts. Some districts that have used outsourcing are “totally disillusioned” with it, she said.
Mike Maloney, director of operations for the district, sent a letter to custodians on Monday. “You have all heard about the potential for outsourcing district functions if there are interested private providers of services that can offer as good or better services at lower costs,” the letter reads. “We have received a proposal for custodial services. It will now be up to the proposing company to show how they would deliver the same or better services for less costs.”
If the company can do that, the proposal could then be presented to the school board for consideration, Maloney says in the letter. “The whole process would take several weeks. It would then be up to the board.”
Additionally, the letter says, to help reduce costs the union and the district have agreed to start a process of changing most eight-hour custodian positions to 7.5 hours, to be accomplished over time through normal attrition. “No current employee will be cut back or affected unless they choose to bid for a 7.5-hour position,” the letter says.
Most new hires will be brought into employment on a 7.5-hour schedule, Maloney said in the letter. Current eight-hour employees who request to become 7.5-hour may be granted permission to do so.
“Management may determine that certain positions need to remain at (eight) hours in order to provide necessary services,” the letter says.
Since Tate asked for letters of interest, signs saying "Protect Our Kids, No Outsourcing in our Schools" have appeared in various locations in Davenport.
In other business, the board:
• Approved hiring Hazard Young Attea Associates to conduct a superintendent search for a fee of $24,000.
• Approved the District Developed Special Education Delivery Plan, a required document that ensures the district provides a system for delivering instructional services, including a continuum of services and placements to address the needs of eligible individuals ages 3 to 21. The document is reviewed, revised, readopted and re-certified every five years.
• During the board's annual meeting after the regular board meeting, members re-elected current board president Ralph Johanson and vice president Linda Hayes to new terms.