Bills take aim at subcontracting

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Bills take aim at subcontracting

One of the biggest threats education support professionals face is the loss of their jobs through subcontracting.

It is also one of the worst moves school districts can make. Subcontracting to private companies rarely saves money, it negatively impacts the quality of support services to public schools, and it harms communities since the vast majority of ESPs live in the school districts that they serve.

Two state lawmakers have introduced bipartisan legislation to make subcontracting attempts more transparent and open to public scrutiny.

“If we get the facts out about the downside of subcontracting, school board members who push to subcontract our jobs will think twice about it,’’ said Dawn Bandle, ESP Region president. “Subcontracting is a bad idea, and it makes no sense.’’

The bills introduced by Sen. John Blake, D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe, and Rep. Aaron Kaufer, R-Luzerne, would prohibit school entities from subcontracting services currently provided by school employees unless the school entities:

• First solicit proposals for public review.

• Identify three-year cost projections.

• Disclose cost comparisons between the services provided by school employees and the for-profit company.

• Hold a public hearing to present the selected proposal and receive public input.

“ESP members’ contributions are too important to sacrifice,” said PSEA

Treasurer Jeff Ney.  “We need to honor the incredible work that they do in our schools every day – and these bills are a good way to do it.’’

He added that subcontracting is not just an issue facing ESPs, it is one that affects the entire Association and public education in general.

“These are hardworking employees who care deeply about the school districts they serve. Most of them live in the districts where they work, and many of them send their own children to these schools,’’ Ney said. “Unlike a private company, they are focused on much more than the bottom line.

“The bills introduced by Sen. Blake and Rep. Kaufer are a top priority for PSEA, and I urge all members to advocate on their behalf.’’