The motivation behind such efforts is by elected Superintendent Paul K. Puletti. Puletti claims the privatization push is to save money after a $50,000 loss from last year when Chief Financial Officer Michael Yanosik purchased new equipment.
Hendry County Education Support Personnel Association [HESPA] President Debbie Steelman and Treasurer Denise Brookins will be available for comment before the hearing at 5 p.m. and says it's HESPA’s position that workers should not have to shoulder the costs of administrative mismanagement.
Food service workers claim “some of that equipment isn’t even plugged in,” says Steelman. She says the school district could save money just by going back to serving food made from scratch “instead of this packaged stuff the kids don’t even like and produces a lot of waste.” The community would benefit by keeping jobs and by providing fresher, healthier food to schoolchildren, the union says.
“There’s no clear answer on what will happen to people’s jobs here,” says Steelman. “A private company might promise all sorts of things to get the district on board and then change everything later. That’s why having a union and a contract is so important. It’s there to make sure folks can’t just get fired for any reason. This is a community issue; and people’s livelihoods are on the line. Privatization would just be devastating.”
While the current RFP is purportedly a draft, the second page contains a clear timeline with dates on how privatization will occur. The February 10 school board meeting is a pretext to, according to the schedule, the release of the RFP to outside private companies on February 13. The schedule also states outside management would begin July 1.
HESPA plans to have a public showing of support by ESPs, teachers, parents and community members for the meeting.