The long debate between the Bay Educational Support Personnel Association (BESPA) and Bay District Schools is coming to an end as next week the board will take a final vote on contract language allowing the district to privatize school services without the guarantee of jobs. But can the transition to privatization happen before next school year.
"We haven't been sitting down waiting for the contract to be settled with BEPA, we have been proceeding like we are going to settle it. It has just taking a lot longer than we wanted," said Bay District Schools Superintendent, Bill Husfelt.
The district has already received and researched proposals from both private transportation and food service companies.
"The problem is the crunch time," Husfelt said.
The private companies have asked the district for 60 days to make the transition to privatizing school services smooth, that means they'd like an answer by the middle or end June. So the district has less than 30 days to ratify a contract with BESPA, hold public hearings on the issue and get school board approval. The question is can they do it in time before school starts on August 20th?
"If they tell me they can do it, I believe it and speaking to references of theirs around the country, I have no reason to believe they can't do it," said Bay District's Director of Purchasing, John Harrison.
Harrison says the district has been researching the idea of contracting out services for about a year and a half. He says the transportation companies want a minimum of 60 days for the transition to do hiring, evaluate and plan routes and research district data. But what if the district doesn't have a ratified contract with BESPA or school board approval by the end of June, could the company get it done under 60 days?
"We would need to talk very closely with them and work very closely with them to get that to happen," Harrison said. "I wouldn't advice against doing it; I would say let's make sure we have our ducks in a row before we do."
"We aren't going to risk anything in doing this because our viability is going to be on the line. We can't put something out there, a product out there, that is not going to work," Husfelt added.
Before any change happens, the school board must vote in the contract language ruled the special magistrate, the union has to have a change to vote on it and then there also has to be time for the public to make comment before the superintendent makes his recommendation and the school board takes the vote.
The special school board meeting to vote on the BESPA contract will be held next Thursday May 31st at 4:00 p.m. at the Nelson Building on Balboa Avenue.