At a Tuesday School Board workshop, which was subject to sunshine laws but not televised or webcast, Hillsborough Superintendent Jeff Eakins distributed this report on savings so far under the guidance of the Gibson Consulting Group.
Gibson was hired in 2015, after Eakins - then brand-new on the job - discovered a spending deficit of about $200 million in the system’s main account of state dollars, known as the “general fund.” That gap set of warning bells in the investment community and jeopardized the district’s credit. Cost-cutting went into high gear.
Eakins told the board on Tuesday that since then, the district has seen a net savings of more than $70 million. Of that, $66 million was in personnel costs and of those personnel costs, the greatest share - $48.9 million - came from steps the administration took over two years’ time to employ 815 fewer teachers. That was done in a number of ways. Some teaching specialists returned to the classroom, or were not replaced when they left the district. The district also scrutinized student enrollment numbers to make sure it hired only the teachers it needed.
The district saved another $8.5 million by reducing the ranks of support employees by 339 over the same two year period; another $6 million by phasing out 60 district administrators; and yet another $2.7 million by getting by with 30 fewer school-based administrators.
Changes in the transportation system - specifically, getting control of overtime - saved $3.4 million annually. The new bell schedule, which increased time between bus runs, produced another $2.7 million in savings.
And the district reports that it has saved $2.5 million by phasing out courtesy busing in middle and high school.
Some important points about custodians, as there has been much discussion about the need to save money and the possibility of outsourcing this work: The district already reduced yearly payroll by $2 million by reducing the number of employees in that department.
The Gibson report did not recommend privatization. Rather, it suggested having custodians report to “zone” supervisors instead of their principals; and do much of their cleaning after hours, in teams. The original report is attached here. The chapter on custodial services is on pages 12 to 16. Much of that information is restated, in greater detail, in Gibson Phase II. There, you can find it on pages 196-230.
Reading carefully through the spreadsheet that was distributed on Tuesday, the custodians are covered on the very last line of Page 9. Under “Recommendation,” it says: “Change custodial staffing formula to reflect industry standards for efficiency.” Under “Status,” it says, “Custodial staffing adjustments and reductions took place during the 2016-17 fiscal year. We are currently researching an outsourced custodial services model.”