District hires on

Jim Gunner: Perkins Schools to save about $300K annually
Alissa Widman Neese
Aug 18, 2014

widman@sanduskyregister.com

Perkins Schools has finalized plans to move its special education operations in-house for the first time.

At a brief meeting Wednesday, school board members OK'd hiring a handful of new special education employees.

Earlier this year, they agreed to axe a contract with North Point Educational Service Center, which previously operated the programs with its employees in Perkins Schools classrooms.

By hiring its own employees — a total of seven teachers and 15 educational aides — it's estimated Perkins Schools will save about $300,000 annually, superintendent Jim Gunner said.

Classes will still continue in the same classrooms, servicing a few dozen students of varying ages.

"We're not unhappy with North Point at all, but this is a way to save some money on overhead costs," Gunner said. "Additionally, it'll offer us some more flexibility for programming for those students."

The district's annual operating budget is about $21 million.

Also at Wednesday's meeting, board members discussed blacktop improvements at Briar Middle School and Perkins High School, which cost about $210,000 total.

The two projects are part of scheduled maintenance financed through the district's permanent improvement fund, Gunner said.

Erie Blacktop and The Kreimes Company teamed up for the tasks this summer.

The companies completely replaced the middle school's blacktop, and at the high school they filled cracks and resealed and restriped the blacktop.

"We worked with both companies so we could make our deadline, and the project bids came in about $9,000 lower total by doing it that way," Gunner said.

Additionally, board members agreed Wednesday to accept the retirement of Furry Elementary School principal Halley Leffler, effective Jan. 31, 2015.

Board members have not yet determined who will replace Leffler following her mid-school year retirement.

Board member Andy Carroll did not attend Wednesday's meeting.

Comments

bjm

Sandusky began managing their own Special Education services 5 or more years ago, also to save money. Good move Perkins.

Best of luck to Mrs. Leffler. She will be missed.

mcddcm

Actually, I know that Sandusky still contracts with North Point Educational Service Center for at least some of their therapy services. My question is, why doesn't Sandusky hire their own and drop North Point? Sounds like Sandusky could save even more money by hiring its therapists. And even if the total cost was the same, they would get better results with a more stable workforce who shares in the district's vision and goals and is passionate about helping its students.

bjm

Good question. Anyone know?

Elwood

What's up with those Perkins school commercials on TV?
What does that cost the taxpayers?

Dinghy Gal

Do the savings include health and retirement benefits?

knowitall

NPESC does a good job with the students. I would like to have heard the school systems discuss student achievement instead of just money.

mcddcm

I've heard that NPESC could do better. And I am positive that NPESC doesn't do these services for free, so they are interested in money too!

mcddcm

I would be willing to bet that the savings would include all benefits. You'd have to be REALLY uninformed if you did not include them in a cost comparison.

I cannot see how contracting with North Point would be beneficial to a school system if you are comparing a full-time equivalent. A school system is not going to incur any real additional costs, other than salary and benefits for the additional headcount. On the other hand, if you contract with North Point, a school system would be paying not only for the salary and benefits of the employee, but also a markup for North Point's administrators, secretaries, rents, leases, and other overheads. I would doubt that North Point pays that much less for their employees than the schools do. Even if they did, all the overhead costs that North Point must pass on to the schools would more than make up the salary differences.

In my line of work, I have found that I have better results with managing my own employees, rather than having contract workers. We share a common vision, and develop a sense of ownership compared to contract workers. In the case of the schools, this would result in better services for students, which should result in better test results, a goal that all schools have.

I cannot understand why, if you consistently need, for example, 3 teachers or therapists, then why would you pay North Point and their added overhead costs for these 3 employees? North Point seems to be a waste of tax payer money in MOST cases.

bjm

Probably true for most services needed by students in area schools. However if a only a few students have severe vision or hearing problems, or needed physical therapy, it might make more sense to use North Point services. Glad to know districts are looking at the bottom line, though.

got.integrity

mcddcm what happens when the population of special needs students drops in the district? Then Perkins is left with employees and no students or not enough for a full class which is expensive for the district. I would love to see the breakdown of cost I cannot believe the savings is that significant. NP shares services between districts so the cost isn't assigned to just Perkins but all district students attending those classes. Perkins couldn't have been too unhappy with the services because most of the teachers and aides hired worked in the district for NP.

mcddcm

I am fully aware of this potential. However, I am sure with good data districts would know their needs and be able to accurately predict their staffing needs. If things suddenly change, you cut heads. Happens every day in the real world. North Point would cut heads also if the number of students with needs decreases. Now, there can be a few exceptions to this, especially in small districts, or with very specific specialty employees that only see a very small poplulation in even larger districts, such as Perkins.

The reality is the larger districts I am sure will have a consistent need for special needs employees. And everything I have read says the number of these special needs kids is growing. I have a good friend that says his son was seen by a NP employee AT Fury, and that employee is always in that school district. No way that employee's cost is shared between districts, so why not hire and eliminate the markup, get more control, and get better results?

"Perkins couldn't have been too unhappy" Perhaps the district liked the employees of NP, but maybe they did not like the administration of NP? Maybe the employees were not able to provide the best services to Perkins because of NP?

I too would love to see a good cost analysis. I'm betting NP is not the best cost and does not provide the best services for a large district like Perkins.

I am bringing up these points because North Point in many cases may be a waste of our tax payer money. Glad Perkins is looking at reducing costs.

Informed

Perkins a large district? That is funny. There is no large district anywhere around here. I graduated in a suburb in another state in the 80's with almost 400 students in my high school class, and there were two other high schools in that district. Recently, my college-aged child overheard other students talking about their graduating high school classes of 1,200-1,500. That is a large suburban district.

mcddcm

If you must nit-pick, I meant Perkins is a large district in THIS area, meaning 30 miles around Sandusky. Yes, I have a good friend that had over 2,000 in his class from Connecticut.

Informed

I don't even think anyone can say Perkins is a large district even in this area.

mcddcm

Really? Try doing a little research:

Fremont: 4,118
Sandusky: 3,413
PERKINS: 2,327
Bellevue: 2,076
P. Clinton:1,746
Huron: 1,569
Margaretta:1,179
Norwalk: 824
Vermillion: 766

Looks like they are one of the largest districts in the area to me. Let's focus on the topic - School districts, especially larger ones, may likely save money and get better services by dropping NP and hiring their own. Perkins, one of the larger districts in the Sandusky area, has dropped North Point and hired their own to save taxpayer money! Great job Perkins. Other districts should look at getting rid of North Point ESC.

Informed

Saying Perkins is a large district is not accurate. Stating it is one of larger districts in the area is. I never stated it wasn't. I am just saying that it is silly to call it a large district, when none of the districts around here is large.

knowitall

You obviously have never used or experienced North Point. They are a good outfit.....do a good job.

mcddcm

Well, Perkins found that dumping NP was beneficial to them. And someone above said that Perkins hired the same people that used to work for NP. So that sure looks like NP was not a "good outfit" for Perkins.

I'd love to see the cost analysis Perkins did. Your comment "[NP] does a good job" may or may not be true. Perkins hired them direct, so there's a good chance these same employees will do at least as good of a job, if not better, working for Perkins directly. At least in my 20+ years of experience in the manufacturing sector, I have found it better to hire direct than contract. Even in some cases when the costs of direct vs. contract were very close, hiring direct gives better control over people working for me, and the people are generally better and happier workers than when they were working contract.

I would hope that Perkins and other districts continue to look at ways to reduce cost AND get better service. I can't see, in this case, why I should use my tax dollars to support the added costs of using North Point. And the services the schools receive can be improved, even using the same service providers but without the added markups.

Informed

Oh, you mean the place that forces teachers to work in closets, doesn't have the appropriate aids so teachers can take their lunch, then fires them when they have twenty years in so they can hire new teachers for lower pay? That NPESC?

knowitall

Thought you were talking about most places. Yes to your question.