NEW BETHLEHEM – In a press release issued last week, Patrick Andrekovich, PSEA UniServe representative for the Redbank Valley Education Support Professionals Association, stated that the union was “disappointed to learn that the school board has plans to outsource the custodial and cafeteria staff in 2018.”

Andrekovich went on to state that should the outsourcing occur, nearly 35 district custodial and cafeteria employees — many of whom have graduated from and have children in the district — would lose their jobs.

“They have a vested interest in the success of the RV School District and the community,” he stated in the release, urging district residents to contact Redbank Valley School District superintendent Michael Drzewiecki and their school board representatives to vote against outsourcing and maintain the local employees.

The press release seems to have come in response to a bullet point that appeared in Drzewiecki’s written superintendent’s report given to school board members at their Nov. 6 meeting.

“Advertisement for bids from custodial service management companies will be posted Nov. 13. The RFP (Request for Proposal) for food service management companies was submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for approval last week,” Drzewiecki’s report reads. It continues that once approved, the superintendent anticipates advertising the first three weeks in January. “PDE guidelines do require a district advisory committee including a member of the board to review food service management company proposals.”

When asked to respond to the press release, Drzewiecki clarified the bulleted statement by explaining that the district is currently investigating the possibility of contracting or outsourcing custodial and food service operations.

He said that the district’s cost savings committee presented the proposal at a work session this summer, and request for proposals for custodial and food services have recently been developed and advertised.

“At present, all the district is doing is determining whether there is a compelling financial reason for considering outsourcing which, of course, requires that it reach out to potential service providers for proposals,” Drzewiecki explained. “The district has made no decision with respect to contracting or outsourcing these operations.”

Outsourcing the support staff has been considered multiple times in the school board’s past.

While a motion to explore the possibility of outsourcing district cafeteria and/or custodial staff failed with a 3-4 vote in April 2016, it was revisited this past June when board member Tina Kennemuth presented it as one of three possible cost-saving measures to help reduce the district’s budget deficit.

Based on research, Kennemuth estimated at the time that the district could save anywhere from $200,000 to $300,000 by outsourcing these services.

In response to the continuous references to the district’s deficit, Andrekovich offered the following information drawn from the district’s financial reports:

• Redbank Valley has a Fund Balance/Surplus of nearly $8,000,000.

• The Fund Balance/Surplus is nine times larger than the state recommendation.

• Since 2010 the overall budget has decreased by nearly $800,000.

• Since 2010 the millage rate has decreased.

• From 2009-16 the total revenues have been $3,500,000 more than the budget projected.

“These facts provided by the district clearly show there is no ‘financial’ need to outsource these jobs,” Andrekovich said in the release. “More importantly, there is no need to bring a constant stream of outsiders into our schools.”

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