In deficit, Ishpeming privatizes custodial work

ISHPEMING, Mich. — Ishpeming Public Schools will privatize custodial services at two schools as of Jan. 1, 2011, in a move that will eliminate four jobs and is expected to save the district about $95,000, according to the Marquette Mining Journal.

Superintendent Stephen Piereson said the district received a "blistering letter" from the Michigan Department of Education in September requiring it to do more to eliminate a $500,000 budget deficit or face penalties, according to the Mining Journal.

The Michigan Education Association will charge the district with unfair labor practices and the school board with violating the Open Meetings Act in response, the Mining Journal reported.

The union alleges that the board used possible privatization of services as a bargaining tool with the Ishpeming Education Support Personnel, which it says violates state law, according to the Mining Journal. It also claims that a board committee has met privately regarding the issue, a charge that board President Robert Nadeau disputed, the report said.

Piereson told the Mining Journal he had not reviewed the charges and could not comment at that point.

In related news, the district will close a middle school to create additional savings, the Mining Journal reported.

Marquette Mining Journal, "Teacher's union to file unfair labor practice charge, claim violations of Open Meetings Act," Oct. 12, 2010

Marquette Mining Journal, "Layoffs, privatization OK'd by Ishpeming school board," Oct. 12, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Michigan School Privatization Up 8 Percent," Sept. 21, 2010