In an effort to continue reducing its spending, the city’s school district has been working on a plan to figure out whether it would be able to create savings by outsourcing instructional aide jobs.
School board president Jonathan Hodges opposed the idea on Wednesday night arguing many of the instructional aide positions are held by local residents. He said outsourcing will have an adverse “ripple effect” in the city.
“I know we save ‘money,’ but that ripple effect is substantial,” said Hodges. The city has a stubbornly high unemployment rate at 12.7-percent, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, twice the New Jersey average of 6.4-percent which is likely to be further exacerbated by the elimination a local job source.
There are 582 instructional aids working in city schools, according to the district.
School board member Errol Kerr also opposed the idea. He said there was a request for proposal (RFP) that was sent out soliciting the services of a firm that would provide instructional aides to the district.
Acting business administrator Daisy Ayala said the RFP will allow the district to put together a cost-benefit analysis for the board after Kerr asked for a report.
District officials later said no RFP was issued.
State-appointed district superintendent Donnie Evans said there are companies out there that would take the city’s existing instructional staff members while saving the district money.
School board member Manuel Martinez said any outsourcing of instructional aides will result in the private company retaining city residents.
The district is putting together a cost-benefit analysis before seriously considering privatizing instructional aide jobs, said school officials. “We may never go that route,” said Evans.
Hodges said there have been other districts that outsourced instructional aides, but later brought them in-house.
Four school board members, including former school board president Christopher Irving, wrote a letter to the New Jersey commissioner of education earlier in the year criticizing Evans for not seriously considering cost savings by outsourcing instructional aide and substitute teacher jobs.
Hodges called the idea “penny wise and pound foolish.”
This story was updated with exact count of the number of instructional aid currently employed by the district.