I received a very troubling phone call today from a technology director in a rural school, whose superintendent has apparently decided to “outsource” him and his lone technician. All the details are not finalized, but the proposal is to terminate both employees’ current positions with the school district (ostensibly to save the district money in our current budget crisis) and re-hire both individuals on a contract basis as they work for a commercial vendor not only supporting IT in their original district, but also in about six other neighboring districts.
I know we have some of Oklahoma school districts already outsourcing many technology support functions to commercial vendors, so this idea is not novel, but I don’t think I’ve encountered a situation like this where a school district’s leaders are negotiating to immediately re-hire their same full-time employees on a contract basis to do the same work they had previously done for MUCH more money on a salary with benefits. Have you heard of other schools which have done this? Are their legal employment issues at stake which this tech director should know about?
The vendor in question is also supposedly negotiating with the administration to be the “sole source” provider of technology hardware as well as support in the district. If a “sole source” situation does not in fact exist for the school district (other vendors can sell them netbooks and software, for example) I question the legitimacy of the district leader’s ability to grant “sole source” status to this particular vendor. This all sounds very fishy to me.
What do you think? What advice would you offer to this technology director, in a very unusual and awkward situation?
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