School Board draws line on outsourcing secretaries’ jobs

By Charles Sercombe

It didn’t take long for the Hamtramck School Board to decide whether to outsource the jobs of school secretaries.

The board flat out rejected a motion to take that action at its regular meeting last week, despite in the past few weeks agreeing to contract out the service of custodians, bus drivers and security personnel.

Boardmembers had heard a presentation earlier in the meeting from a company that offered to provide secretary services.

The board also heard from a parent and secretaries who gave an impassioned plea to save their jobs.

“They are like part of my family,” said one parent about the relationship school secretaries have with her children.

Vanessa Gray, a secretary for 23 years, read from a prepared statement, saying indeed the students are “my children.”

She also said that she occasionally stays after school, for no extra pay, to make sure students get picked up by their parents.

A proposal was made to outsource all non-teaching jobs in an effort to reduce a $3.4 million budget deficit. The board had no problem contracting out the jobs of bus drivers – who were told that their private employer would make them full-time employees and get the same pay – and security.

But when it came to custodians, the board at first split on the vote several weeks ago. A special meeting was called after that vote when Boardmember Magdalena Srodek changed her mind.

In the proposal on the secretaries, it died without a vote because no boardmember would make a motion. There was no discussion on the subject by the board.

After the meeting, Srodek told The Review that she rejected the proposal because the role secretaries play is “too vital.”

Next on the to-do list is getting a contract agreement with the teachers’ union. The district and teachers have been negotiating since last August.

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