|The RFP for Custodial Operations in HCPS Matters to Schools & STUDENTS|
April 05, 2019
This week we will focus on the reality of what the RFP (Request For Proposals) means to employees, the community, public schools and ultimately our students in Hillsborough County.
Hillsborough School District leaders are saying the RFP sent out for Custodial Operations does not mean the outsourcing of those jobs is a done deal. Although an RFP is not a guarantee for implementation, even when a short list of choices is compiled, the mere fact that HCPS leaders say they are shopping around by researching the market should be taken very seriously.
Many companies specifically seeking to sell products or services to school districts in order to make a profit see an RFP as an opportunity to crack an account or get a windfall of revenue. Within this industry, sales pros call the reaction to RFPs of high worth the “rainbow effect" because of the race that ensues to get to the pot of gold. There is plenty of research district leaders can look at to know that outsourcing custodial operations will not save money or provide superior quality. Despite what they are wanting you to believe, by gathering information through a “fishing expedition,” HCPS leaders have expressed their clear intent to outsource.
There is plenty of research and clear examples of how outsourcing ends up costing more over time, and does not meet the quality standards that are desired:
Cleaning firms submit low-ball bids based on unrealistic staffing assumptions. When classrooms are dirty and parents complain, it costs the district more to boost staffing and improve cleanliness. Chicago Public Schools found this out with its custodial contract with Aramark. In the first 11 months of the deal, the company charged $22 Million more than budgeted, wiping out all the projected savings for the year. The company had to increase staffing by hundreds of workers after complaints about school cleanliness and the district’s failure to include some facilities in the contract.
SODEXO & ARAMARK:
GCA SERVICES (AMB INDUSTRIES):
The $800,000+ Gibson Report had many recommendations for improving efficiency, quality & decreasing costs through centralization (NOT PRIVATIZATION)!
Centralization is the process or action of bringing activities together in one place.
Aside from the district’s choice to ignore clear & plentiful research on increased cost and poor quality services, there is a deeper and more serious threat to employees in ALL of the blue collar position here in HCPS. As we’ve previously pointed out, new School Board member, Steve Cona, expressed publicly his desire to privatize more than just custodial services while running for his seat. It is no coincidence that early in his term the district has hastily sent out an RFP for custodial operations. This action shines light on the clear path to dismantling the ability for a large group of employees to negotiate collectively for their wages, hours & working conditions.
Steve Cona is the president of the Associated Builders & Contractors Gulf Coast Chapter. This association touts that it was formed to ensure construction projects are awarded to qualified and responsible low bidders, with their mission being to advance the “Merit Shop Philosophy.” While no one would argue the importance of strong qualifications & the hiring of responsible workers, the term “merit shop” is misleading in that context. Merit Shop simply refers to a firm or organization without a labor union, and we would argue that the absence of a union certainly does not guarantee workers are more qualified or responsible to work around our children everyday.
School board members have a primary responsibility of ensuring limited public tax dollars have a POSITIVE impact on students, employees & the community - not ensuring the flow of public tax dollars is headed directly to certain outside profiteers. By ignoring the Gibson Report’s recommendation for centralization (NOT PRIVATIZATION), increasing positions in custodial operations by 200 employees since 2014-15 and not looking to actually improve quality & efficiency from within FIRST, school district leaders have sent a message to employees, the public, and kids in Hillsborough County: that they would rather pay more to an outside company to do the job than manage responsibly and efficiently from within to serve students and communities.
The effects of outsourcing go beyond monetary costs. In our neighborhood public schools especially, outsourcing can have unintentional negative impacts on students, teachers, principals, community residents, and businesses. A study of the potential impact of outsourcing should be completed and made public before any Request For Proposals is ever generated. These analyses have not been done for custodial operations, nor have they been performed in the past for contracts with companies like Kelly Services & Minimize USA, to name a few.
Moving forward, district leaders should include the potential impacts listed below; as appropriate; in their analysis:
This practice will ensure that our School Board and the public fully understand the ramifications of any outsourcing decisions before the RFP is generated, before the contract is signed and before major loss and trauma is caused to our students learning conditions in Hillsborough County Public Schools.
Steve Cona (District 1) (813) 272-4052 Schools Represented
RFP & Students April 5 - 2019.pdf
RFP Espanol Students April 5 - 2019.pdf