OAK PARK- The Oak Park Board of Education recently voted in favor of another one-year contract for 40 union custodians following rumors that Superintendent Alexander Bailey might turn to the private sector for replacements. But union members' relief will last only a year. Bailey says once the contract expires, the district will review the custodians' performance and may reconsider privatization.

Last year, the rumors of outsourcing turned to fear during contract negotiations when Bailey announced that bids were being sought for the job. Union members gathered to protest the move at a recent board meeting, and Bailey made a case for his contention that custodial services in the district had become unsatisfactory. However, Bailey told those assembled that only custodial management would be privatized this year.

He kept his promise. Bids are currently being accepted only for custodial management, although Bailey says the structure of the department will be up to whatever company is chosen.

Union spokesman Michael Landsiedel admitted to the Daily Tribune that the department does lack leadership and said the union does not oppose subcontracting out managers. "We didn't really have a boss. Our people have been doing what they know how to do without any supervision."

Michigan's Public Act 112 gives school districts the ability to outsource services without union approval and makes it against the law for union contracts to prevent such action.