Key Issue: Subcontracting

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Key Issue: Subcontracting

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 is often presented as a way for school districts to reduce costs. However, savings rarely occur. Public accountability can be lost. New issues are created for school boards, which remain legally responsible for providing these vital functions, but have relinquished much of their control to the company now providing those services.

PSEA opposes any plan to subcontract education support professionals' jobs.

Report a threat of subcontracting

If you and your colleagues are facing the threat of subcontracting in your school district, please contact PSEA to request assistance.

The Truth About Subcontracting

Subcontracting costs communities more

It is difficult for districts to anticipate all the costs which will be incurred when private contractors are hired. As a result, administrators and school boards are frequently disappointed to discover that contracted services actually cost much more than anticipated. Too often, cost overruns, contract language loopholes, penalty payments for additional levels of service, or changes to the service itself cost more than the district budgeted for the contracted service.

Contract renewals often add costs

Private contractors, like other for-profit companies seeking business, often under- price the original bid to obtain the first contract, then raise prices – sometimes significantly – when the contract is up for renewal. In the case of the largest contractors, there is little economic pressure from competitors. In addition, contracting for services does not save districts the costs of maintaining equipment and facilities, providing cleaning services and products, and paying attorney fees.

Subcontracting changes the dynamics between the schools and the community

The overwhelming majority of education support professionals live in the school district where they work and often have children attending those same schools. Incorporating a contractor from outside the school district disrupts the sense of community. Contractors are rarely required to hire all the workers who previously performed the work. They can bring in workers from other cities or other states to do the work previously performed by district residents. Labor relations are removed from the district’s control. This is neither good for the district and its employees, nor the students they serve. Private sector workers are not subject to the same requirements as are public sector employees.

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.