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Clark County School Board wants say in outsourcing

The Clark County School Board and public need to be part of the discussion if Superintendent Dwight Jones follows through on a consultant’s “last resort” recommendation to outsource bus drivers and custodians in 2012-13, the board agreed at a Monday meeting.

“This is like a ripple effect through our district right now,” School Board member Chris Garvey said. “We need a clear message.”

Clark County School District policy doesn’t require the superintendent to get board approval first, board President Carolyn Edwards said.

Jones, who went home sick, wasn’t at the Monday meeting to detail his plan.

The district hired Gibson Consulting Group three months ago to find ways to improve student achievement at the lowest possible cost. Their Sept. 7 report said that if savings can’t be achieved through labor union negotiations, the district should consider outsourcing 1,522 custodial positions, saying the district would save $5.6 million in hourly salaries and $4.8 million annually in benefits.

If bus drivers do not agree to concessions, Gibson recommended outsourcing for bus drivers, managers and supervisors, a $36 million savings over five years.

The district and the Education Support Employees Association, which represents district support staff, have yet to reach a contract for this school year and 2012-13.

“Outsourcing is something we’re going to have to consider down the line to cut costs,” said board member Linda Young, but the effect of those cuts on students needs to be at the front of everyone’s minds.

“The children have to be first and foremost,” board member John Cole said.

In response to concerns about how nondistrict employees would be vetted, Greg Gibson, president of Gibson Consulting, said contracts with private companies could require the same background checks that the district currently does for its workers. Writing a clean, clear contract is key if the district were to go down that road, he said.

Regardless of whether the district follows through on the last-resort recommendation, board members agreed that policy changes must be considered not only to keep them in the loop but the public as well, even if outsourcing is just being considered.

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