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School privatization Fight Back on in California

Lisa Snell
February 13, 2005, 10:07am

California Republicans have renewed their fight to repeal the bill that outlaws outsourcing in public schools. The new bill is weaker than previous bills with many concessions to labor. Republican lawmakers on Thursday revived their push to make it easier for school districts to contract out for nonteaching services such as food, landscaping and buses. Legislation being developed would allow schools to outsource for some services, saving districts money while keeping in place protections for employees replaced by contract workers, said Assembly Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield. The Republican plan this year calls for displaced workers to be offered a job with the contracted company or elsewhere in the district. The employer would have to match the hourly wage and provide the same level of health-care benefits. It also would require more extensive fingerprinting and background checks of school workers. "It protects wages. Health care, it provides it. Displacement job protection, we take care of that in this bill," said McCarthy, who is sponsoring the legislation along with Assembly Member John Benoit, a Riverside Republican. "We [address] every concern about why the bill could not move forward." In the last few years, the anti-outsourcing bill has cost districts lots of money and forced some to suspend instructional programs. Fresno is the case in point. Fresno Unified – in financial shambles and struggling to avoid a state takeover – could save millions of dollars each year if it were allowed to contract out for landscaping, food and printing services, Mehas said. The money could restore downsized music programs. Mehas said Central Unified School District could save $500,000 per year by using an outside company to do its printing. Doing so, he said, would not hurt employees.

Lisa Snell is Director of Education


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