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School districts fight addition of hurdles to contracting rules

Senate Bill 294 would make significant changes to the public contracting code, and proponents are seeking an amendment that would carve out cities and counties, leaving school districts as the target of the law change.

The Senate Workforce Committee took testimony this week on the bill, which would add profit to the cost analysis calculation and allow a bargaining unit to seek judicial review.

“This bill, as written, will add additional steps to the already complex process for districts,” said Angie Peterman, executive director of the Oregon Association of School Business Officials. “At a time when budgets will be cut again, districts will look at support services, like contracting for services, as one area for cost savings and using those dollars in the classroom.”

  Sen. Kathleen Taylor

Brad Earl, chief operations officer for the Medford School District, also testified.

“Medford has outsourced our busing for many years, allowing us to focus on the essential mission of the district – quality teachers in classrooms,” Earl said.

SB 294 would add layers to the current procurement process set out in 2009. All government entities must follow the complex procurement process defined in Oregon Revised Statute 279B if they decide to outsource services with a private company.

“Previous years of underfunding in education have left school districts continuing to look for areas they can modify, to get resources to the classroom,” testified OSBA Interim Director of Legislative Services Lori Sattenspiel. “The management of transportation, custodial and food services are support services and not essential classroom functions, leading school districts to look at changing how they deliver these services.”

Sen. Kathleen Taylor (D-Portland), committee chair, said the committee would not be moving the bill at this time.

- Lori Sattenspiel
Interim director of legislative services