What is subcontracting?
Subcontracting occurs when a public employer shifts the delivery of services performed by public employees to private businesses (also called "outsourcing" or “privatization”).
Subcontracting public school employees’ jobs is often presented as a way for school districts to reduce costs and ease the burden for school administrators. Subcontracting means that district-employed education support professionals will be fired; they may, or may not, be hired by the for-profit company.
The Truth About Subcontracting
School districts who subcontract services may find that anticipated cost savings are illusory; administrative staff must still oversee the contractor’s work, and public accountability can be lost.
Subcontracting costs more than anticipated.
It is difficult for districts to anticipate all costs which will be incurred when private contractors are hired. Cost overruns, contract language loopholes, penalty payments for additional levels of service, and/or changes to the service itself frequently cost more than the district budgeted for the contracted service. Contract renewals often increase costs.
Contracting for services does not save districts the costs of maintaining equipment and facilities, providing cleaning services and products, and paying attorney fees.
Subcontracting impacts students and parents.
High employee turnover leads to a lack of consistency for students, and can hurt relationships between students and the caring adults in their school. Subcontracting is based on the misconception that cheaper is better, and does not guarantee high-quality service for schools or students.
If parents or community members complain about a contracted service, the district becomes only a "middleperson" who can only complain to the contractor or enter into costly contract renegotiations.
Subcontracting hurts the community.
Most support professionals live in the school districts where they work and often have children attending local schools. Contractors are rarely required to hire all of the workers who previously performed the subcontracted work. If they do hire the district’s employees, contractors generally offer lower pay and/or substantially lower benefits.
Community businesses will suffer, as workers have less income to spend in local establishments, and the loss of benefits, especially health care coverage, may place additional strain on local social services.
Most districts that opt to subcontract work do so with large companies based outside of the local area. Private companies exist to make profits. When a contract is signed with a company from outside the area, tax dollars leave the community and do not benefit the local economy.