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SRC moves to outsource 3 management jobs in transportation

By Katie McCabe on Jul 10, 2012 12:26 PM

By Katie McCabe

The School Reform Commission voted Monday to outsource the three top management positions in its transportation department, but recessed until Wednesday to allow more time for talks with the labor union representing bus drivers, mechanics, and other blue-collar workers whose jobs could be facing a similar fate.

Layoffs for all 2,700 workers represented by SEIU Local 32BJ District 1201 are slated to begin Sunday if a deal isn’t reached this week. The District has already lined up private contractors willing to take over all transportation and facilities management services at a $50 million discount.

But officials said that Monday’s vote, to unanimously approve a three-year, $2.7 million contract to the TransPar group, will have no bearing on talks with 32BJ.

“This vote is independent of the negotiations with 32BJ,” said Thomas Knudsen, the District's chief recovery officer.

TransPar is a management and consulting firm with a track record of helping school districts cut transportation costs.

One focus of the group’s work will be selecting and implementing an automated bus-routing program for the District. Knudsen said the District now uses laminated maps and grease pencils to plan its routes.

“We are … maybe the only large urban district that has not purchased an automated routing package software,” explained Jennie Wu, the District’s deputy chief of strategic planning. “With the help of TransPar, we would move forward making that purchase.”

In response to questions from Commissioner Lorene Cary, Wu said that TransPar has helped school districts in Chicago; Orange County, Calif.; New Orleans; and elsewhere to get more buses showing up on time and to decrease the amount of time students spend in transit.

They have also helped to save those districts millions of dollars, Wu said.

The District has said it must realize $50 million in savings for transportation, custodial, and maintenance services as part of its efforts to close a budget gap that could be as large as $282 million.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the SRC approved license fee agreements for four new Renaissance turnaround charter schools set to open in September:

  • Creighton Elementary (Universal Companies)
  • Cleveland Elementary (Mastery Charter Schools)
  • Edmunds Elementary (String Theory)
  • Jones Middle (American Paradigm Schools).

The agreements essentially permit the charter operators to occupy District buildings rent-free. The operators can choose either to reimburse the District for building maintenance, cleaning and other facilities-related costs, or to assume responsibility for providing those services themselves.

Thomas Darden, who oversees the District’s Renaissance charters, told the SRC that the District’s decision not to charge Renaissance operators rent is based on legal advice.

“As a result of the District’s facilities being financed with tax-exempt bonds,” Darden said, “the approach we used to charge the actual costs would keep us in compliance with IRS regulations.”

Monday’s meeting will resume at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, and an update on the District’s negotiations with 32BJ is expected at that session.

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Comments (23)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 10, 2012 1:45 pm

But, Darden, you are not charging actual cost - you are giving charter operators a major discount. Universal got Audenreid and Vare for free in 2011 - 2012 and saved them $1.8 million. You are only charging them $500,000 for both schools in 2012-2013 while the district picks up the $1.3 million balance. How is this "actual cost?"

Submitted by Pseudonymous (not verified) on July 10, 2012 2:29 pm

With the help of TransPar, you can... buy software? Send tax money to Missouri?

I'll help you buy software for free. Here's one: http://www.transfinder.com/ and another http://edulog.com/ and another http://www.geckoms.com/ and another http://www.tylertech.com/solutions-products/school-solutions/transportation.

Or you know, you could save $2.7 Million by using Google yourself. I'm sure the software company has reps who would love to help you implement it with the current managers.

Or is this the consolation prize to your buddy Pedro Martinez, since TransPar also manages the transportation in Clark County Nevada and Washoe County Nevada?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 10, 2012 2:43 pm

Of course, you are right. What's next for these scum bags?? And they just don't care who knows what they're doing because everybody knows but it doesn't stop.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 10, 2012 3:35 pm

"But officials said that Monday’s vote, to unanimously approve a 3-year, $2.7 million contract to the TransPar group, will have no bearing on talks with 32BJ.
“This vote is independent of the negotiations with 32BJ,” said Chief Recovery Officer Thomas Knudsen."

As in, we're cutting your throat, but it won't hurt.

They always cloak their shenanigans in benign terms. Cutting 2700 blue collar jobs will have an adverse affect on thousands of families. Thousands of our students are going to be driven deeper into poverty.

Submitted by A Touch of Sense (not verified) on July 10, 2012 4:17 pm

You can bet TransPar group is joined at the hip with the Boston Consulting Group and/or the Philadelphia School Partnership and/or the other behind the scenes players.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 10, 2012 3:22 pm

Hey, I want one of those buildings, too! I'd like the $12 package, please. Seriously, what the **** is going on?!!! I feel like we are living in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 10, 2012 4:40 pm

If we can outsource at a $50 Million dollar savings, I have one question. Why the heck wasn't this done years ago? The SRC has a duty to get the best deal possible for taxpayers!

Submitted by Pseudonymous (not verified) on July 10, 2012 4:23 pm

Strange that you take the word of the company who stands to profit and the ever-corrupt, conniving SRC at face value.

Strange, too, that when people in the private industry get laid off as a cost-saving measure, we are meant to have sympathy and support them, but when they are public employees we are all supposed to cheer like hooligans and hope they starve.

Yay! People who were making $13 an hour and had health insurance now don't have a job! Hooray! We will have more people in abject poverty, who will be exponentially more expensive to support than they were when they had a meager salary!

Hip hip hooray! Death to the working poor! Long live the jobless! As long as the idiots who run the company that will "save 50 million dollars" get their golden parachute, who cares that there isn't a private contractor big enough to do the job and can't possibly actually do it for 50 million less.

Which, by the way, is exactly the amount the SEIU union offered in givebacks.

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on July 10, 2012 4:23 pm

Paul Vallas outsourced a whole lot of things when he was here. The problem was that the services we got from the outside sources were always terrible. They never knew what they were doing. In the end it always cost us more money.

One of the main reasons for our deficit is poor choices and poor management of the contracts to outside sources. We got ripped off time and time again.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 10, 2012 5:21 pm

WE didn't choose the outside sources. The SRC and the Superintendents they chose did.

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on July 10, 2012 5:46 pm

You are correct. WE didn't select them. But WE had to clean up the mess that they created and WE had to deal with the incompetent people the outsources provided for us.

A case in point is that they cut NTA's who knew the kids and knew the neighborhoods. Most NTA's knew how to do their jobs. The outsourced people they sent us were often worse than the kids and usually caused more problems for us than they were worth.

The NTA's I had the good fortune to supervise and work with often prevented serious incidents from going down by being proactive within the school. They, for the most part, knew how to support teachers and support the administrators. They knew how to talk to the kids.

They were always right there with me when I needed them. As I look back, I didn't reward them and thank them enough for what they did for me and our school communities.

Vallas rewarded them by cutting their jobs so he could make himself look like a '"reformer."

Submitted by K.R. Luebbert (not verified) on July 10, 2012 9:08 pm

You are right, the real NTAs were great! Some of the out-sourced people for attendance, etc... that were sent to us (many by 'faith-based' organizations) were awful! Most had no skills that would enable them to communicate productively with kids--they caused more issues than they solved.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 10, 2012 5:26 pm

Unanimous vote. Remember that.

Does anyone--the Notebook or 32BJ--have numbers on how many members have kids in Philly schools? Let's talk about how many of our students will now be impoverished because the SRC won't pay their parents a fair wage.

And why won't the District come to an agreement? What is it they want?

Lisa Haver

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 10, 2012 7:06 pm

The FAR BIGGER question is WHY are WE just sitting around posting stuff instead of standing WITH our brothers and sisters. It's called solidarity and it's the lynch pin of unionization. Where is Jerry Jordan?? All I can think is that City Council has our backs and will fight for the union people. They live here and are not too dissimilar from us.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 10, 2012 9:25 pm

What they want is the destruction of the unions so the corporations can pay minimum wage to ALL workers. They couldn't care less about the havoc that will follow.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 11, 2012 2:45 am

That the PSD focus on its mission, which is not to be a jobs/ patronage program. Actually tries to get the best deal for the taxpayer. That would be a good start.

Submitted by Retired SDP Employee (not verified) on July 10, 2012 10:13 pm

Everyone believes that the $50 mil in savings for eliminating SEIU 32 BJ employees is based solely on wages/benifits. What is not realized is that this also includes the costs of equipment, supplies, and materials used to maintain school buildings on a daily basis that the private companies will be responsible to provide. Additionally, any laid off SEIU employee that is "rehired" by the providers will no longer have contributions made to PSERS (of which the SDP matched), since they are no longer considered an SDP employee.
When the SDP previously "outsourced" school facilities jobs, the providers hired many former SDP employees that were fired for non performance, theft, etc. The turn over ratio of their employees was so problematic that schools were not opened on time, not cleaned, equipment was damaged, and missing property was the routine. After the five year contract was up, buildings were returned to SD control in such poor condition, it took quite some time to bring them baxk up to standards. In the long run, savings were all but nullified.

Submitted by anon (not verified) on July 11, 2012 1:00 am

src is penny wise but pound foolish.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 11, 2012 7:05 am

Anyone complaining about the cleaning staff at the high schools that are privatized? I am unaware of any.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 11, 2012 8:00 am

When they were first hired they had MORE people (staff) in schools with new equipment and supplies. Now over the last year or two they were forced to cut back on positions as the district shrunk there contract. Also Building Engineer's complaints went to the way side because upper managenment wanted to keep performance hush hush.
Also 2-3 major thefts in computers that made the news.

Submitted by Pseudonymous (not verified) on July 11, 2012 8:08 am

So, yes. Complaints.

The major issue highlighted here is that once we are stuck with a private company, the district can do things like cut their contract and leave us with even less.

And we all know what it is like when people who don't work for the district work in the building and feel they only answer to the outside company, which invariably doesn't provide adequate management.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 11, 2012 7:11 am

Remember your attitude when it's your turn and people say the same thing about you.

Submitted by BrassBandit (not verified) on July 11, 2012 8:47 am

Vincent Vega is in the HOUSE!!!!! We shud have shotguns!!!!! What a SCAM!!!!

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