This just in from New Jersey School Boards Association: Senate Bill 1191, which would restrict school districts’ abilities to outsource certain services, is through committee and poised for a full vote by the Senate. (I covered this bill last week at WHYY’s Newsworks.) Essentially, the bill requires that school boards engage in negotiations with unions before subcontracting out custodial, food service, and bus driver positions.
NJSBA opposes the bill. The Association performed a survey into subcontracting in 2009, which generated responses from approximately 40 percent of school districts; the responding districts reported savings from subcontracting that totaled at least $34.3 million a year.
The bill was also substantially amended by the Senate committee, which added language allowing counties to require school boards to take part in countywide purchasing agreements for the custodial or food services, if the county has established such a purchasing system. The new provisions, which NJSBA opposes, would compromise local control by allowing counties to compel school district participation in a countywide agreement, even if the district has already privatized food or custodial services – and regardless of whether the district was able to negotiate a better deal on its own.
The bill also places significant hurdles in front of school boards that have not yet subcontracted services, but desire to do so.