PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - The Matanuska-Susitna Borough School Board is debating at it’s meeting Wednesday whether to put out a request for proposal (RFP) to seek a private company to run nutritional and custodial services. The potential move is part of an effort to shrink a 10 million dollar budget deficit but employees and parents say the consequences are much too costly.
At the meeting, the board will listen to public comment and have an open discussion. Research has shown a privatization could save the district $1.1 to $4.3 million per year.
“I think it doesn’t come as any surprise to anybody that we are in a fiscal crisis in the state,” said Mat-Su Borough School District Superintendent Gene Stone.
Potentially 78 nutritional services workers and 118 janitorial staff could risk losing their positions. Jodi Salmon, the nutrition service manager at Talkeetna Elementary has been working for the district for 10 years. Her husband was laid off the North Slope last year and is now the janitor. Both risk losing their jobs.
“Someone we don’t even know who is going to come in and, and you’re right down at the bottom again,” said Salmon. “I’m going to lose 10 years of my life that I’ve worked so hard.”
Stone is hopeful many of the employees could go to work for the private company. From 2006 to 2009, the district used a private company for janitorial services and many were former district employees and when the district took back over the service, many of the private employees were hired.
“We certainly value all of our employees regardless of what position they hold,” said Stone. “As we move forward with this process we want to do it with the greatest level of sensitivity possible.”
The School Board will make a decision in two weeks on whether to issue a RFP.
The earliest a private company could take over would be July 1, 2017.