In an effort to reduce costs, the Athens Area School District is considering a New Jersey company called Mission One to take over the management of support staff, such as secretaries, custodians, cafeteria workers, and aids.
Community members in the Athens area are speaking up, following an announcement that the school board is considering subcontracting nearly 80 support positions throughout the district.
“The board hasn’t made any decisions, it’s more of an exploratory thing to see what they could offer us, what the price would be to outsource something of this nature,” Athens School Board President Robert Fauver said.
It’s the latest in a 3 year battle over contract negotiations.
“What the school district is doing is, they are trying to sell the care of the students to the lowest bidder and they’re saying to these guys, give us a proposal that saves us half a million or we’ll bring mission one in,” PSEA Representative Stu Karschner said.
“We are looking at every possible way as a board of education to save the taxpayers money and this is just one way,” Fauver said.
“They’re going to fire all of these employees…80 plus employees! They’re going to bring Mission One out of New Jersey up, New Jersey’s going to hire people and this Mission One will control the workforce. The district won’t have control of it, they’ll be Mission One employees,” Karschner said.
Karschner says that decision could have negative effects on the school district and community for years to come.
“We’re hopeful of the community saying no you can’t do this to our students you can’t do this to these employees who have worked here for 40 years,” Karschner said.
Community members we spoke to all shared the same message.
“I think it’s affecting a lot of people and I think there’s a lot of people scared,” Gloria Lincoln, a substitute teacher at Athens said.
“The local people are better, some of them have worked with the same students for years and years and years. It’s not a good idea to bring in somebody else,” Vikki Lovekamp:
“If they bring in strangers that will just add to the confusion and kids might get lost in the mix I would think,” Jeff Baker of Athens said.
Athens Area School Board President Robert Fauver tells 18 News that the board has sat through presentations from Mission One and stayed in contact with the company, but that no decision has been made at this time. The first day of classes for students in Athens is next Tuesday, August 23rd.