Possibility of privatizing school support employees causes impasse in negotiations

By: Erica Rakow Email
By: Erica Rakow Email

BESPA and Bay District Schools negotiators agreed to disagree on a contract Monday night. They declared an impasse, with more than 75 support employees decked out in red watching.

"The district wants to change language on 23.1 which is contracting out services for Bay District employees and we were not willing to go down that road," said Martina.

The district wants the language change to allow the flexibility to explore privatizing transportation, custodial and food service employees for the next school year.

"We want to look at companies coming and doing it and we don't know, they might not be able to do it any cheaper. We want to look and see because we're worried about what we're going to do next year," said Superintendent of Bay District Schools, Bill Husfelt.

During Tuesdays board meeting, Martina and Husfelt traded frustrations.

"Imagine at this time with our economy, what it feels like to those people who earn the least in the district to have to worry about having a job next year. It's terrifying," said Martina.

"Nobody's enjoying this. If you think this is a ploy to fire all employees. This is not what it's about. It's about survival right now," said Husfelt.

Over the past four years, the state has cut the district's funding $71 million dollars. And Husfelt says no one knows what to expect next year. Both sides will take their arguments to a mediator. If they don't accept the mediator's decision the school board will vote on the issue.

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