Also no surprise--the savings basically come from the fact that, although wages and benefits were supposed to be comparable, there would be no retirement funds for those staff.
Steve Norton from Michigan Parents for Schools (MIPFS) writes very cogently in the comments of the annarbor.com article:
Not quite spelled out in the story is the fact that, while the base bids were required to offer current employees the same pay and "comparable" medical benefits, the district has not completed a review to see if the health benefits are truly "comparable." The presentation on custodial and maintenance privatization made it clear that bidders were including benefits packages that had a huge range of costs - these can't all be comparable. The bidders' costs minus benefits were quite similar. Unfortunately, the current AAPS costs were not broken out into benefits vs. other costs, so it was hard to compare the bids to our current costs.
I, too, hear a lot of anger at unions - and also some unfortunate disdain for custodians and bus drivers, the blue collar workers in our district. Remember that our kids are not encapsulated in classrooms, and that the educational experience has to be put together by a large team, which is not limited to teachers.So, there you have it. I don't think I could have said it better myself.
Moreover, unions are not the main problem here. Nearly all the savings in the base bids comes from moving these employees out of the state retirement system (MPSERS). Mandatory contributions to that system currently stand at 17%, and are set to climb. These are the district's costs; employees must also contribute.
MPSERS is administered by the state under rules set by the state legislature....
Employees who are not close enough to "buy" enough years to vest in the system will lose everything if privatized. MPSERS benefits are not portable if you leave public school employment. (Emphases added.)
Except for the why: WHY does anyone think it is ok to take away retirement benefits from some of the lowest-paid staff in the district? I don't think that is okay.
Michigan Parents for Schools can be found at mipfs.org, and is an organization for parents concerned about the future of our public schools and working for a better way to fund education.
One more thing: did you know that you can write to the entire Board of Education, in one fell swoop, by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org? (When I did this, I only heard back from one board member--the secretary--who assured me that everyone else is reading my email--I have no confirmation of that, but I sure hope he is correct!)