- Cassia County School District 151
Board Speaks on Privatizing Services
Board of Trustees Speak
As elected volunteers, we are stunned by the mis-characterization and purposeful misleading of facts as we studied and deliberated Cassia’s school facility needs and our decision to privatize custodial and maintenance services.
The vote was taken and the contract ratified, all according to state open meeting laws and our statutory responsibilities as school trustees.
At no time was any employee fired or threatened with firing. In fact, we made the treatment and transition of our employees a condition for the initial proposal and subsequent contract. This included setting the base salary no less than what they were currently making, comparable health insurance benefits and a 401K retirement plan. It’s come to our attention that some employees have been told to reject the ABM job offers and go on unemployment. This is disturbing news considering we worked for two months to ensure a smooth transition with a maintenance of an hourly wage. We were told that Cassia was the only district to have such conditions prior to contracting for services.
At no time were we deaf to the perspectives of our employees and the significance of this decision. We aren’t visitors to our own communities. We did not take this lightly. In fact, we made this decision recognizing there would be personal implications and criticism.
We don't expect every person to agree with our decisions, but we do expect integrity and respect in an honest dialogue. In this situation, facts have become secondary to sensation and manipulation. A very one sided view has been perpetuated. If the only source of your information has been outside Facebook sites, a one-time headline or a 15 second news blurb, we’d love to talk to you.
We fundamentally care about our employees. Additionally, we have a fiduciary responsibility to manage limited resources. We believe both of these interests can be satisfied with this change.
Our Board believes that engaging a reputable and experienced company will immediately add expertise and professional oversight to our operations department.
Educational leaders are experts in the field of education. A building principal is a principal educator and charged with the oversight of the educational program. University degrees in elementary and secondary education do not include coursework in HVAC repair, roofing, landscape, parking lots, electricity etc.
When teachers and administrators certify with the State of Idaho, there is no requirement for facility expertise. Yet, when a principal or central office leader is selected, that expertise is now expected. Consequently, when problems arise, that expectation falls upon an individual who perhaps was not trained in specific industry standards.
Our first priority, mission and vision for Cassia students is high levels of learning and success for all students. We must create a culture that empowers our administrators and teachers to keep that as their first priority.
We believe that this change will help the district be more responsive to the demands of the community to take better care of our buildings. In spite of this, more needs to be done in order to address the overcrowding at Burley High School, an aging Dworshak Elementary, an incomplete Declo Elementary, Burley Junior High, gymnasiums, and a backlog of deferred maintenance. These projects will require additional problem solving over time. We are committed to serving students in the ways that fulfill our responsibilities, respect the expectations of our community and guard the hard earned resources of the taxpayer.