Board considers outsourcing work

Published 10:30pm Saturday, September 14, 2013

At its meeting Thursday, a School Board member’s bid to explore using outsourcing to fund a 5-percent raise exclusively for educators was shot down.

Board member Linda Bouchard raised the topic in two motions. The first, to prioritize a 5-percent raise for teachers and assistants in upcoming budget deliberations, was supported unanimously.

The second, to direct Superintendent Deran Whitney to explore outsourcing “parts of maintenance and custodial services” to fund it, failed narrowly.

While other school district employees also deserve raises, “we have to fully support those directly teaching children,” Bouchard argued. “I want it to be the most important thing on our agenda.”

Opposition to Bouchard’s plan to explore outsourcing came from Judith Brooks-Buck, Enoch Copeland and Lorraine Skeeter.

With Diane Foster out of the chambers during the ballot, votes for and against Bouchard’s second motion were tied, killing it.

Some board members appeared shocked that one of their colleagues had raised the issue.

“I think some of this should have been brought up with the superintendent prior to this meeting,” Copeland said. “What we are discussing, I think, should have been recommended by the superintendent. Therefore, I can’t support the second motion.”

Brooks-Buck had a problem with proposing a raise for some district staff and not all. “I think we are a whole team,” she said.

“I can’t imagine taking away from one (group of workers), and saying, ‘Business could do it a better way.’”

She also said that while affected staff might not lose their jobs, history shows they would lose benefits.

Bouchard said there is a precedent for outsourcing, citing Norfolk Public Schools, the City of Norfolk, Isle of Wight County Public Schools and Virginia State University.

“There are many school systems that have determined they can more efficiently take care of these services with a private company,” she said. “It does not necessarily mean we are taking jobs away.”

Suffolk Public Schools owes it to Suffolk citizens, “who are paying for all these bills,” to look at other ways of rewarding teachers, she said.

Board chairman Michael Debranski, who voted for the second motion, said the the system needs to “look at all aspects … that can help us support instruction.”

“I’d like to see the different particulars … the benefits versus the things that are not good with it,” he added.

Whitney, who said exploration of outsourcing had been initiated before “based on previous conversations,” appeared lukewarm on Bouchard’s idea.

“I have reservations about it only being instructional staff, because we need to send a message to all our staff that they’re worthy of an increase of some sort,” he said.

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  • Jack

    Maybe the city can sell some of those new Tahoe’s and put the money to good use… Or maybe all the new cop cars or maybe the ridiculous salary of our joke of a City Manager. Or perhaps that complete waste of money called the visitors center.. Boy I could go on all day… This city (Mayor/City Manager) is trying to be about “bling” and trying to “look good” while ignoring everything that is truly important.

    Suggest Removal

  • happyGoLucky

    Ok @ Teach I just want to clarify something here… SAO workers should read SAO “Instruction” , Deputy Superintendent, Chief of Operations etc. These “experts” got double digit raises that equaled thousands of dollars!

    Departments such as HR, Purchasing, Finance, Special Education and Technology got zippo….zilch. However, that is the perception out there due to the poor leadership of this Superintendent. So to a point I agree… This guy has thrown a lot of money at these instructions specialists downtown when that chunk of money should have gone to teachers. Look at the test scores.. his science project is not working! That being said, there are people that have been working very hard down at the SBO that have not had ANY raises either. You need to pay the people that actually do provide good work for SPS…These people Hire teachers, ensure computers, networks and peripherals are working and make sure you get paid and make purchases etc.

    All SPS employees need a raise. It has been years aside from the 1% raise that everyone received which didn’t even cover the 2% VRS increase so essentially those people are in the same boat as the teachers…their paychecks went down too!

    If anyone needs to point a finger it should be pointed at Chavis, Witney, Alston etc…. speaking of which, it is ironic that there is another “Alston” listed on the SPS Administration page. Hmmm…I wonder how that hook-up went down. Did she get a big raise too???

    This Superintendent is conducting business very similar to the exploits of the City Manager. Give the top few positions big fat raises while the support staff and teachers that keep the machine running are left to fend for themselves. What is really sad is that folks arbitrarily think because SOME of the top dogs at SAO get HUGE raises that everyone that works there does too which is NOT the case.

    Pay the teachers and Support Staff that HAVE NOT SEEN A RAISE IN ALMOST A DECADE WHAT IS DUE! Stop wasting money on specialists that are not in the classroom. They are most likely playing online games or checking their stocks not helping our teachers prepare our kids for the future.

    Suffolk News Herald..Please investigate and publish the raises received at the SAO…you will find that a bunch of money went to a select few at the top!

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    • fingertothenose

      @happyGoLucky – the Suffolk News Herald needs to also investigate the real “instructional support” that’s gone into these areas. Ask teachers if these specialists really help them – how often do they go into the classroom? Do they know what’s going on? Even better – the two highest paid ones, Conner and Dohey, are over other content area? What do they actually know about this content? How much to they make teachers do their work for them? What about CTE? There’s someone over CTE, assuring CTE keeps LOW class sizes and adheres to state regulations, but who sees that PE classes stay below 35 in the high schools? Why are there 40-60 students in high school classes?

      Bouchard also recommended REDISTRICTING….this needs to be done!!! One high school has a considerable population, while one does not. Why? Fix it Suffolk!

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      • happyGoLucky

        Indeed!… all those dollars spent on these instructional specialists yet…anemic results. I agree with your points @fingertothenose

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  • fingertothenose

    Time to call a spade a spade:

    1.) The superintendent works FOR the school board. Not the other way around. Bouchard does NOT need to run anything by Whitney. He is not their boss. Period.

    2.) The superintendent shifted and re-did the budget last year AFTER it was put before the public and city council, restructing jobs, eliminating real support jobs to add to administration. Some SAO employees got raises of over $10,000. The superintendent himself did.

    3.) Teachers take-home pay was cut this year, which SAO took home more. They sent letters home to teachers Friday to help “explain” why they have less money. But SAO made more money.

    4.) Buck and Copeland are the superintendents voice. Whitney didn’t like it that Bouchard had a mind of her own. Buck doesn’t realize that the administration is not part of “a team” as she called it. They are not helping teachers.

    5. “I think some of this should have been brought up with the superintendent prior to this meeting,” Copeland said. “What we are discussing, I think, should have been recommended by the superintendent. Therefore, I can’t support the second motion.” — well, Mr. Copeland YOU SHOULD NOT BE ON THE SCHOOL BOARD. YOU ARE AN ELECTED OFFICIAL THAT IS THE BOSS OF THE SUPERINTENDENT. You obviously don’t think for yourself.

    6.) The second, to direct Superintendent Deran Whitney to explore outsourcing “parts of maintenance and custodial services” to fund it, failed narrowly. — YES, the school board DIRECTS the superintendent. That’s THEIR job.

    7.) Whitney, who said exploration of outsourcing had been initiated before “based on previous conversations,” appeared lukewarm on Bouchard’s idea. “I have reservations about it only being instructional staff, because we need to send a message to all our staff that they’re worthy of an increase of some sort,” he said. —- HAHAHAHAHA, you gave others raises last year, fired others, forced retirement on others. What a joke.

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  • teach

    Funny how SAO workers received pay increases but teachers did not…..and I know that will be the case year after year…sad.

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  • NP

    So now we know that the school board thinks they answer to the Super just as the City Council thinks they answer to the city manager. Our elected officials have it backwards! Time they get a wake up call next election cycle. In the mean time we (the constituents) need to get on the phone and let them know they work for us not the SI or CM.

    Suggest Removal

  • deany

    Teachers start looking…..they’really telling you now you won’t get a raise next year……the money is there and has been there all.along, its just put aside for positions at SAO and the board goes along with the foolishness year after year…..the economy is blooming in Suffolk, the city manager lives well, the superintendent lives well, the mayor lives well, yje board members live well, and SAO ‘s administrative hierarchy lives well, it seems the only ones not living well are the teachers and support staff and their doing all the work……run teachers don’t walk to a new system….
    At the very least you’ll make at least $3-5 thousand more

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  • am

    “I think some of this should have been brought up with the superintendent prior to this meeting,” Copeland said. “What we are discussing, I think, should have been recommended by the superintendent. Therefore, I can’t support the second motion.”

    Well, that should tell everyone that the School Board is responsible to the Superintendent and not the other way around.

    Brooks-Buck had a problem with proposing a raise for some district staff and not all. “I think we are a whole team,” she said.

    “I can’t imagine taking away from one (group of workers), and saying, ‘Business could do it a better way.’”

    The Central Office has been taking away from its employees for years – and now when there is a chance to do something for those actually teaching the children, some board members cry foul? WOW!! Wait until next year when more of the “laser” instructional positions open at the central office. See where the money goes: it certainly won’t be spread around!

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