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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Outsourcing costs, budget documents and salary questions

Question: Is there a location on the B-P website where taxpayers can see dollar amounts attached to budget ideas being considered for the 2011-12 budget? If not, I would like to request that B-P share on its website some true dollar amounts, costs and savings for budget ideas being considered.

I would like to know the approximate cost savings of outsourcing B-P's food/lunch program and the approximate cost savings of outsourcing our transportation. This cost savings number might potentially include the sale of some buses on the B-P equipment list.

As a taxpayer and employee in the private sector, I, like many taxpayers, have had to accept a pay freeze for several years, and many of us have had to do this in an attempt to sustain our own employment.

With that idea in mind I would like to request information on what the approximate dollar savings would be if the entire B-P staff (administrative, support and teaching) were all to agree to NO pay increase in the coming 2011-12 school year. I believe this is a legitimate item that should be on the table for discussion.

I am hoping the cost savings numbers that I have requested can be shared so I can better understand our situation and I am hoping it will allow us to make informed decisions and help us all decide where to concentrate our efforts. It seems we are discussing combining athletic programs, what I consider a potentially negative impact on our school and students, and we are considering this prior to committing to smaller steps such as outsourcing food and transportation, both of which I believe have less impact on our school and students.

Answer: All public schools in New York are required to make their budget documents available to the public, both online and in school offices at least two weeks prior to the budget vote. At B-P, we strive to make the budget development process as transparent as possible through our community roundtable forums and the information that we put online and in our newsletters.

In regards to outsourcing, please see the minutes from the last community forum [click here]. At this forum, which was held on Dec. 13, community members weighed the pros and cons of outsourcing our food or transportation services. In the end, the community’s opinion was that there is a much bigger picture to outsourcing than first appears. Community members felt that outsourcing could lower district morale, take away our control in some areas and potentially compromise quality. In addition, our current contractual obligations prohibit outsourcing.

Some time ago, after a thorough investigation into the costs of outsourcing, the district committed to operating a transportation department and has even made infrastructure upgrades to the bus garage through a voter-approved capital project. Because of the investment we have made, the district feels it would be somewhat irresponsible to make the decision to outsource transportation at this time.

Outsourcing could also have a potentially negative effect on the entire B-P community given that almost 70 percent of our non-instructional staff members live within the district. If we were to outsource these positions, we would have less control over how the programs operate and whether the affected employees would be rehired to work in the district.

In the end, we feel it is a better decision to accept the loss of a potential small savings that outsourcing may provide to maintain the quality and control of our programs.

If the entire B-P Central School District staff (administrative, support and teaching) all agreed to NO pay increase in the coming 2011-12 school year, the cost savings would be $860,516.
-answered by Stephen Tomlinson, District Superintendent

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