The request for proposals (invitation to bid) is posted on the Upper Perkiomen School District website and the race is on to see who will be providing the Upper Perkiomen School District with certain custodial and maintenance services after July 1, 2013.
Two weeks ago, at the monthly meeting of the school board, officials heard many reasons why they should keep the service providers local and part of the school district family. The only reason given for outsourcing is to save money. The question now is how much and at what cost? Sometimes administrators look at one and not the other; failure to publically discuss and report the savings versus cost should set off a warning to taxpayers – and it did.
This current episode could be a prelude to what’s coming and taxpayers will need to show up en masse again and again and continue to ask questions and offer opinions until elected officials and administrators regain the trust of those paying the bills.
Closing the communications gap with the public would be a good first step. Accepting the responsibility of communicating effectively and truthfully is vital. On the importance of communication effectively, a wise local politician once said, “If you don’t give the people information, they will share misinformation.”
Tonight’s meeting of the school board's academic achievement committee and the finance/budget committee are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. in the Upper Perkiomen High School Auditorium. According to a posting on the district’s website, www.UPSD.org, these are informational meetings looking for public comment and questions on each area being covered. Tonight’s categories are: personnel, legal services, special education and psychological services.
More than 225 people showed up at the meeting two weeks ago and more are anticipated for tonight’s gathering. It is the school board’s and administrators' responsibility to make sure the district is run properly. When taxpayers feel it isn’t, they show up at meetings and ask questions. What they want in return is answers.
Two weeks ago the public was scolded by a member of the board who wanted them to attend more meetings so the body could hear what they had to say. More than 30 people rose to speak at that meeting. With rumors of cutbacks still thick in the air, there may be more who rise to share their opinion tonight.
Let’s hope that officials will listen to each speaker and weigh each thought before they make any decisions; let’s hope that officials will share the concerns they hear tonight with other administrators and board members, not just the committee members; let’s hope that officials will not only look at the savings, but at the costs as well of every decision they make; and let’s hope that officials improve their methods of communicating with the taxpayers to avoid this type of public relations snafu in the future.