Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Outsourcing Public Education

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Outsourcing Public Education

Article excerpt

We ask a lot of our public schools. We ask that they not only educate children, but also transport them and feed them. Many provide before- or after-school care for students. We expect schools to serve students regardless of their learning needs. They must maintain buildings, parking lots and playing fields. When a teacher is sick, they have to find temporary staff to fill the gap.

Many public schools are unable to do all of this. To meet the needs of students, they often to borrow a word from the business world "outsource" jobs. Just like your paycheck gets printed by an outside company or your office is cleaned by an independent janitorial service, schools often hire a private company to manage the district's bus services, to provide before- and after-school care, to cook children's meals at lunch time, and to clean the buildings. Schools contract with outside health care professionals or private schools to meet the needs of students with special needs. A district can even contract with an outside management firm to run the school if they want. Some schools are even outsourcing who teaches your children, at least when they have a substitute teacher.

Filling all of the vacant classrooms when teachers are absent can be a challenge for school district officials. Some districts hire full-time aides who act as floating subs, filling in here and there as needed. Others employ a cadre of retired teachers, individuals looking to gain experience in the profession, or others simply looking for part-time work. The process of recruiting, hiring and placing substitute teachers can be cumbersome. Rather than hire an assistant superintendent or other central office staff member to take on this responsibility, some schools have begun outsourcing this job to a private company.

In St. Louis, for example, Kelly Educational Staffing provides this much-needed service to several school districts. As Dale Singer of St. Louis Public Radio reports, the privatization of substitute teachers has been a success. …

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