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A tight budget year ahead is causing the school board to consider outsourcing nutrition, transportation and nursing services.
Friday, August 30, 2013
Roanoke County schools officials plan to investigate outsourcing the system’s nutrition, transportation and nursing services.
While any decision is far from being made, officials said Thursday they need to explore the idea since another tough budget year is on the horizon.
“It’s not something we want to do, but it’s something we need to look at,” Superintendent Lorraine Lange said.
She said officials will know whether it’s a feasible option if they begin looking at it now.
The discussion came during a morning construction committee meeting where there was a consensus among board members to look at the possibility.
“I think at this point it’s certainly not something we want to do,” board Chairman Jerry Canada said. “Our focus is on the classroom, the students and the teachers who teach them. That’s our mission. Everything else is to support that mission.”
Roanoke County has investigated outsourcing before. In 2010 officials discussed the idea, but there was little support and a wait-and-see approach to how things worked in Roanoke, which began outsourcing its transportation services in 2010.
On Tuesday, city officials began discussing renewal of that contract, which expires in June.
Salem also has been investigating the possibility of outsourcing. The division is preparing to put out a request for proposals for outsourcing nutrition services next school year, though nothing has been decided.
Roanoke County did begin some outsourcing this school year. Ohio-based GCA Services Group took over the maintenance work at Hidden Valley High, Cave Spring Middle and Cave Spring Elementary in July as part of a pilot program.
That move is expected to save $64,000, and officials have said no current full-time employees lost their jobs.
The possibility of cutting staffers has been at the heart of outsourcing talks.
“When you explore the possibility of outsourcing, people immediately think people are going to lose their jobs. That’s not our goal,” board member Mike Stovall said.
Board member Fuzzy Minnix, who adamantly opposed outsourcing in 2010, said he doesn’t want to give a pink slip to someone who’s gotten up at 5 a.m. and worked for the system for 20 years.
“For those that cook and those that drive, this meeting is going to expand like wildfire,” he said, adding that he has usually come down on the side of the employee. “Where does loyalty to employees stop and being able to pay the bills start?”
In other news, the board:
n Received a detailed estimate on what it would cost to repair the system’s Woods End House, located on the Hidden Valley High School campus.
The Prevention Council of Roanoke County approached the school board earlier this month about moving into the little-used house. To be usable, the facility would need to be rezoned and undergo substantial improvements.
Officials aren’t sure they can afford the work and said recently the system must fix the house and find a group to use it, or demolish it.
Marty Misicko, the school system’s director of operations, estimated it would cost $68,000 to make the needed improvements, such as making the facility compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and upgrading the electrical and air conditioning systems.
That cost does not include installing a sprinkler system, which officials aren’t certain is required, or the cost of professional architectural services, which would be about $70,000 and $15,000 respectively.
Officials intend to get more information on the sprinkler system and take up the house’s future at their next meeting.
n Discussed Glenvar High School’s renovation, which is the system’s next construction project.
In June, officials appropriated $1.3 million for architecture and engineering services for the school’s renovation. Spectrum Design completed the design work, which was presented Thursday.
The firm proposes reusing almost all of the current building, though it would add some new spaces, including a new science wing. But all the existing spaces would be completely upgraded.
“It will feel like a new school, upgraded at every level,” said Nathan Harper of Spectrum Design.
The firm also proposes reorganizing the building, including moving the main entrance. Walls would also be relocated to make classrooms larger and support space would be added for teachers.
The next step in the process is for the design work to be shared with the school’s staff. The construction committee also voted to allocate $60,000 for testing and surveying for the project.
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