Don’t outsource custodians, Mars Area school board told

Source: Sandy Trozzo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 16, 2016

More than 75 parents and educators crowded into the small room where the Mars Area school board meets, spilling into the vestibule, to voice their displeasure with the board’s rejection of a fact-finding report in a labor dispute with support staff. Board members voted 8-1 a second time Tuesday to reject the report. The second vote was required by law because members of the Mars Area Education Support Staff had approved the report. Board member Steve Boggs was the lone dissenting vote both times. Those who spoke were unanimous in their view that the district should offer the support staff — paraprofessionals, secretaries and custodians — a fair contract and not outsource their jobs. The district is considering outsourcing custodial services to save $1 million per year. Outsourcing paraprofessionals and secretaries would save another $800,000 a year, but the board currently is looking to outsource only custodians, solicitor Tom Breth said. … Some staff and parents talked about problems with services that were previously outsourced. Parent Lori Allison said she quit being a substitute teacher in the district because the company hired to manage substitutes kept asking her to teach classes for which she was not certified. “They only wanted a body,” she said. Mr. Breth said the main sticking point in negotiations is the district’s insistence that all employees be treated the same for health care costs. Under the current contract, which expired June 30, 2015, the district pays only for individual health coverage for new employees rather than family coverage that existing employees receive. Employees can opt to pay for family coverage themselves if they want it. …