The Clark County School Board agreed to move school funds for custodians and IT services out of the central budget and into schools’ individual budgets Thursday, but it came up short on a proposed idea to let a small subset of schools go outside the district for those services.
Trustee Kevin Child was the lone no vote on the custodial and IT budget items.
The original plan presented Thursday would have allowed schools in a pilot program to hire an outside company for custodial services, but the board couldn’t fully get behind the idea without being able to prescribe certain requirements for the outside companies.
Concerns mostly focused on the plan with custodians, which would involve allowing schools to work with outside vendors. Trustees raised concerns over employee loyalty, background checks and whether the outside vendor would hire Nevada residents.
“If we can see there’s obstacles or potholes in the road, why even continue down it?” School Board President Deanna Wright asked.
Despite that, some trustees said they should move forward with the plan.
“If it flops on its face, then we pull it in and do something different,” Trustee Carolyn Edwards said.
The two items were brought forward by the district Thursday as part of the ongoing state-mandated reorganization, which puts more decision-making ability in the hands of principals and school organizational teams. The schools that decide to proceed with the experiment also hope it will result in budget savings for the services.
“If there’s a possibility and if it ends up being way more expensive, then we don’t want it,” said Katie Decker, a principal of three elementary schools. “If it ends up being a cost savings and a better service delivery, then we want to consider it. We just want to look and see what choices there are out there.”
The district presented the technicians and custodians after a survey of principals. Only the schools already identified in the pilot would have been able to participate.
Support union head Guillermo Vazquez said the district doesn’t have control over the process because it’s the law, but the district can control what goes in the request for proposals.
“We know it has to be done by law, but we know some good components can be put in there,” he said.
A move in September gave principals more control over the selection and supervision of custodians, so the vote Thursday moved the corresponding money.
The proposed action would have taken it further, allowing the selected schools to go outside the district to hire a vendor instead. If the vendor costs less than what the schools receive for custodial services, the schools would be able to spend the excess elsewhere.
The average elementary school will receive almost $150,000 for custodial service, the average middle school $260,000 and the average high school $471,000, although the actual amount depends on the size of the school and other factors, according to district estimates.
The district would have sent out a request for proposals, vetted and approved outside companies. Each school then would have been able to pick an outside company to provide services.
However, the board couldn’t get behind that plan without having first seen specifics in the request.
Similarly to the custodians, schools are hoping that hiring a technology technician on an “at-need” basis will be cheaper than the salary and benefits of having a full-time technician on staff.
But an important distinction is that the IT pilot program did not include an option to hire outside services. Instead it will allow schools to contract with the district IT department on an at-need basis.
The district anticipated being able to absorb the employees from the nine schools, filling open positions in the IT department, officials said. That means no jobs will be eliminated during the pilot.
A typical elementary school will receive about $28,000 in exchange for not having the full-time technician, a middle school will receive about $56,000 and a high school $60,000, according to estimates.
This model was met with fewer questions. Wright asked why the custodial program could not be more similar.
“We’re the largest employer in this state, and our support staff are always the one who take it on the chin,” she said.
Custodial: Schools interested in the custodial pilot include Walter Bracken Elementary School, Howard Hollingsworth Elementary School, Walter Long Elementary School, Aldeane Comito Ries Elementary School, Stanford Elementary School, Sheila Tarr Academy of International Studies, Gene Ward Elementary School, James Cashman Middle School, Eldorado High School and Northwest Career and Technical Academy.
Technicians: Schools interested in the technician pilot include Walter Bracken Elementary School, William Ferron Elementary School, Howard Hollingsworth Elementary School, Walter Long Elementary School, Betsy Rhodes Elementary School, Aldeane Comito Ries Elementary School, James Cashman Middle School, Eldorado High School and Northwest Career and Technical Academy.