Huron Valley taking bids

HIGHLAND, Mich. - Saying it can no longer afford the benefit package offered to some support employees, Huron Valley Schools is exploring outsourcing its transportation and food service operations, according to The Oakland Press.

The district has gone out for bids as contract negotiations between the district and its bus drivers, food service workers and assorted transportation employees enter a third year, The Press reported. The workers in November rejected a tentative agreement reached through mediation.

Janet Roberts, director of community relation for the district, told The Press that the tentative agreement would have reduced the number of paid days off. Workers currently receive nine holidays, 10 vacation days, 10 sick days, two personal days, five bereavement days and two snow days. Bus drivers at the top of the pay scale earn $16.45 an hour, and the district pays $15,777 annually for health care coverage for each worker's family, Roberts said.

"We wanted them to give up a portion of the paid days they do not work," Roberts told The Press. The union representative was not available for comment, but bus driver Deborah Fisher told The Press that the agreement also would have eliminated optical and dental coverage.

Fisher said support employees have stayed at the same wage level for the past year in order to protect their jobs while administrators received a pay increase and some also receive car allowances, the Press reported. She called the bidding process a scare tactic.

The Oakland Press, "Huron Valley seeks to replace embattled service workers," Feb. 13, 2009

Mackinac Center for Public Policy Michigan School Databases, "Master Agreement between the Huron Valley Schools and the Huron Valley Support Service Professionals," Feb. 15, 2008