As a partial solution in managing approximately $5 million in debt, the trustees of the Nampa School District have begun eliminating full-time custodial staff members who are the recipients of PERSI (Public Employees Retirement System of Idaho) benefits.
“We estimate we can save approximately $300,000 a year with this plan,” according to Allison Westfall, district spokesperson. The savings will come from approximately 87 full-time custodian positions that the district is outsourcing to GCA Services Corporation, a janitorial and custodial services company that provides services in 45 different states and Puerto Rico.
The company is now in the process of interviewing the full-time custodians currently employed by the school district, and it is anticipated that that the company will re-hire most of them once their current employment is terminated.
GCA says it can provide custodial services for about $300,000 a year less than what the district is currently paying its own custodial employees, specifically because GCA does not extend “defined benefits” plans (of the sort that PERSI provides) to its employees. Instead, GCA provides its employees a 401k plan starting after one year of service, an approach to retirement plans that is customary to non-governmental workers.
PERSI provides retirement benefits and health care benefits services to a majority of state and local government employees throughout Idaho. PERSI membership includes full-time state employees and local school district employees, as well as employees of most other city and county government agencies.
Westfall told IdahoReporter.com that other staffing cuts are likely on the way at the Nampa School District, cuts that will likely involve the elimination of positions held by presumed PERSI members. “The board meets later this week to consider a plan to cut administrative staff by 7 percent and to consider a 5 percent reduction in certificated personnel,” she said.
In April the school district solicited bids from private companies to which the district might outsource its food services work. Now, according to Westfall, plans to outsource food services have been abandoned.
“Our nutrition (food services) programs are funded with federal dollars,” Westfall explained. “Those programs are currently running surpluses, so making changes with those programs is not an urgent matter.”
But might the Nampa School District regain its interest in providing food services in more cost-effective ways and reconsider some of the bids that it has received?
“Maybe down the line,” Westfall told IdahoReporter.com. “Our real problems right now are with other areas of the district budget that rely on our general funds, so that’s where our emphasis is currently.”