Verona Board of Education decides against outsourcing paraprofessional services

The Verona Board of Education decided Tuesday, May 31 that it will not attempt to outsource its paraprofessional and tech staff, but residents are still calling for more benefits and respect for teaching aides.

The board also outlined a plan for the teaching aides to join the Verona Education Association employee union. The board will have the Public Employment Relations Committee validate that the majority of aides have the proper forms to warrant unionization. The board will then accept the results of that process.

A sizable crowd of Verona parents and school employees attended the board’s last meeting May 10 to advocate against the idea of outsourcing the paraprofessional and technology staffs.

Doing so would have allowed an outside vendor to handle administrative work for teaching aides, while local officials would control personnel matters like firing, hiring and transfers. Board of Education President John Quattrocchi said on May 10 that this would keep the current staff in Verona while alleviating the high turnover rates for paraprofessionals and making for an easier transition between employees. There was a 40 percent turnover rate among Verona school paraprofessionals in the last year.

“The outsourcing, we’re taking off of the table and we are looking at better solutions to some of the HR-related topics,” Quattrocchi said.

Some of those topics include benefits, job security and paid personal and snow days. Lynn Tuorto, a Verona parent, noted how the district is losing aides to neighboring towns like Cedar Grove and West Orange because they offer such employees these luxuries.

“When you look at those factors and compare them to other districts, especially [comparable] districts of ours, that is not happening there,” Tuorto said. “We might want to give a little bit more, give people a reason to stay.”

Quattrocchi did not make any promises to these concerns, but he said that the board is doing everything it can to retain its current staff and reduce turnover.

“The work that we’re doing is not to reward the 40 percent that left,” Quattrocchi said. “The work that we’re doing is to keep the 60 percent that are still here. We’re trying to correct the issues that result in such high numbers choosing to leave.”

One of those issues is some current aides feeling underappreciated, one employee said.

Ginny Scanlon, a paraprofessional at H.B. Whitehorne Middle School, said she felt disrespected when an email alerting teachers and staff that when the building was cleared following a May 12 bomb threat at the school, the teaching aides were not included among the recipients.

Quattrocchi noted that the error was resolved, but Scanlon still did not feel enough concern is shown to her and her colleagues.

“It would be a genuinely well-received thing if once in a while, the aides got something that said, ‘Hey, you’re doing a great job and hey, I know it’s a tough job,’” Scanlon said.

Quattrocchi asserted that he has always been cognizant of the work of teachers.

“Listen, I’ve been here for 13 years,” the board president said. “If there’s a board member in Essex County or in the state of New Jersey that is more complimentary of the staff, I’d like to meet that person.”

He continued to stress that the board has focused on improving the welfare of teaching aides within the districts for nearly 18 months.

“This has been at the forefront of what we do,” Quattrocchi said. “So for anybody to walk away thinking the board has a lack of respect, a lack of appreciation, or a lack of understanding of what it means to have such a turnover rate is completely wrong.”

Verona Business Administrator Cheryl Nardino said on May 10 that the district employs 68 teaching aides and three technology staffers.


MBTA is urged to keep ‘money room’ fare-counting jobs

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority will continue to pursue outsourcing the jobs of employees who count cash fares, despite protests from workers and some reticence from members of the MBTA’s oversight board.

On Monday, officials said such privatization efforts must move quickly because of ongoing “variances” between how much fare boxes and vending machines say they are collecting, and how much cash is actually being deposited. The T made some progress in addressing the reliability of its fare collection in the past but has not eliminated the problem.


“This is a problem that needs to be rectified immediately,” Brian Shortsleeve, the T’s chief administrator, said during the control board’s weekly meeting.

Officials did not publicly say how much money the MBTA has had trouble tracking recently, but Shortsleeve referred to a 2012 audit that found hardware and software deficiencies had led to a $101 million variance over five years. The T recently hired CliftonLarsonAllen, a consulting firm, to complete a $15,000 audit to gauge the current situation.

Monica Orr, a 25-year veteran of the T, warned the fiscal control board that the quality of services could deteriorate with outside employees. Orr has worked for about five years in the “money room,” the nickname for the department that counts cash fares.

“If you give these jobs to a private company, there is no way the MBTA can expect the same level of dedication to the job,” she said. “Privatizing these jobs will ensure a team of employees who work at low pay, don’t care about one another, and have little care for the important role of the money room.”

Joseph E. Barr, director of traffic, parking, and transportation for the City of Cambridge, told the board it may have trouble finding companies willing to take over the job for a cheaper price.


Control board member Brian Lang also questioned the move to privatization, arguing that officials knew hardware and software are largely to blame.

“Why would we issue a request for proposals [from outside companies] using the same equipment?” said Lang, president of a hotel and food workers union. “As I understand it, it doesn’t seem like there is human error involved — or theft — and what it sounds like is that there is some technological issue of the equipment we already have.”

Nicholas Easley, the T’s recently hired director of flexible contracting, said it was more than just equipment. “It’s an entire process failure,” he said.

The “money room” counts about $142 million each year for the MBTA and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, as well as parking revenue for the cities of Cambridge and Boston. Currently, the MBTA spends about $10 million on 78 employees in the department.

Outsourcing would be one of the first major efforts by Governor Charlie Baker’s administration to take advantage of a temporary suspension of the so-called Pacheco law, which put up hurdles for privatization at public agencies. Baker persuaded the Legislature to give the T a temporary reprieve from the law as part of his efforts to transform the transit system’s finances.

Also on Monday, the control board approved implementing a discount for 12- to 25-year-olds who may not qualify for the T’s discounted student pass. The T had been testing a “Youth Pass” for a year that gave discounts to 12- to 21-year-olds, a program that was spurred by years of protest by transit activists.

Nicole Dungca can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ndungca.

Made in America: The Death of Offshore Outsourcing

Back in December of 2001, China first joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) after a near 15-year battle to break into foreign trade. The nation’s efforts to enter the WTO — beginning in July 1986 — had taken so long that former Chinese prime minister Zhu Rongji jokingly remarked enough time had passed to “turn black hair white.”

The long and arduous application and negotiation process, though, was no doubt worth it for the East Asian nation. China has scored a number of remarkable economic achievements since its entry into the WTO, including:

  • Second-largest economy by GDP
  • Largest merchandise exporter
  • Second-largest merchandise importer
  • Fourth-largest commercial services exporter
  • Third-largest commercial services importer

For China’s trade partners, of course, the effect was not quite so rosy. For one, opening the doors to Chinese trade meant new and fierce competition in the labor market, particularly in manufacturing. After all, why pay an American wage when you can get a Chinese worker — working in a factory with minimal regulations — to do the same job for pennies on the dollar?

Chinese Labor

According to reports from the Economic Policy Institute, outsourcing to China has cost the U.S. over 3.2 million jobs since China’s entry into the WTO 2001. Of these 3.2 million jobs lost, three-quarters (2.4 million) were in manufacturing.

Decades of Decline

All told, the U.S. manufacturing industry lost 11 times more manufacturing jobs in the 2000s than in the 1990s, despite comparable rates of overall manufacturing growth.

Adding insult to injury, even those fortunate enough to hold onto their jobs have watched their annual earnings decrease by roughly $1,400 — all in the face of a staggering 35.2% cumulative inflation rate.

Needless to say, offshore labor outsourcing — not just in China — has been an economic headache for American workers for decades and still is today. The total number of U.S. jobs outsourced in 2015, for perspective, was a staggering 2.4 million.

Today, though, China is just one of many threats facing American workers brought on by globalization. With increased rates of IT services outsourcing, India and Indonesia have recently overtaken China as the top-rated outsourcing countries.

Unfortunately, there’s not much American workers can do about this problem, even if they wanted. Between minimum wage laws and higher costs of living, there’s simply no competing in the global job market anymore. After all, according to a 2012 survey from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, nearly 75% of corporations say that labor-cost-saving is a top-three reason for overseas outsourcing — twice the rate of response for any other option.

Not too surprisingly, 89% of U.S. economists agree that job outsourcing directly hurts our economy (according to Sourcing Line Computer Economics), which ultimately raises the question: What can and should be done in order to combat this trend?

The Death of Offshore Outsourcing

The good news for job seekers here in the States — at least in the manufacturing industry — is that the effects of offshore outsourcing may have already reached their peak. The bad news, though, is that what comes next could be a whole lot worse.

In fact, the death of offshore outsourcing will be brought on by the very thing destined to put the nail in the coffin for American manufacturing workers: automation.

Already, we’re beginning to see the effects of low-cost robotics and automation overseas. Last week, Apple and Samsung manufacturer Foxconn Technology Group (Taiwan) revealed a reduction in its workforce by 60,000 at a single factory.

For perspective, the company reduced its employee count from 110,000 to 50,000. That’s more than half of the factory out of work, replaced by machines.

The very same week, German sports retailer Adidas announced it would begin making “robot-produced shoes,” made in a new state-of-the-art factory, dubbed the “Speedfactory.”

According to Adidas, the Speedfactory is a 4,600 square-meter facility built to automate the company’s shoe production. The first production plant, which will be located in the German city of Ansbach, represents the end of the company’s 20-year outsourcing streak to Asia.

Adidas has jointly revealed plans to open a second Speedfactory in the United States in 2017, with others to later follow in Britain or France. Considering that the U.S. ranks as the highest salary nation in the word and the UK as the sixth highest, the message is clear: humans, even in low-paying, developing nations, are becoming obsolete.

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Return of the “Made in America” Tag

While somewhat bittersweet, robotics process automation (RPA) is inevitably going to cut into the offshore outsourcing industry. For factory workers in the U.S., the effect is virtually one and the same, but for American companies and their investors, this could be a major boon.

In terms of cost effectiveness, automation has gained a major advantage over outsourcing in recent years. According to one study by Deloitte, entitled “The Robots are Coming,” an offshore full-time equivalent worker is ~35% cheaper than a UK worker, while a typical robot costs just one-ninth the price.

Interestingly enough, RPA could mean the eventual resurgence of the “Made in America” label, as distribution and supply chain costs come down with onshore factories. Of course, these goods won’t technically be made by Americans, but they’ll be made in America nonetheless.

We’re already seeing evidence that this is the case with the recent resurgence of domestic manufacturing growth. One of the most advanced robotic manufacturing facilities in the world, for instance, is run by Tesla Motors, which builds its electric cars entirely in the U.S.

Further, with the official opening of its Robotics Manufacturing Facility in Michigan last year, Swiss-based ABB became the first global industrial robotics company to begin building robots in the USA.

Taken from a recent ABB blog:

A resurgence in home-grown American manufacturing is now taking root in the country, largely driven by advanced technology.

For American manufacturers, returning home will ultimately translate to improved product quality, reduced delays, and even cost savings. And while bringing manufacturing back to the U.S. won’t necessarily mean the return of the American factory worker, it’s poised to create thousands of high-paying service jobs for the skilled workforce.

Perhaps most importantly, though, bringing manufacturing back to the U.S. means stopping what’s been a 15-year offshore money-bleed.

Until next time,

  JS Sig

Jason Stutman

follow basic @JasonStutman on Twitter

In addition to his work at Wealth Daily, Jason Stutman serves as the Managing Editor for multiple investment advisory newsletters including Technology and Opportunity and The Cutting Edge. Jason has also served as an editor and contributor for popular investment services Energy and Capital and Tech Investing Daily. Jason holds a B.A. in Behavioral Science alongside an M.Ed.,with postgrad coursework in mathematics, technology, and science.

June 6: Outsourcing, bag fees and Madonna

Stop selling out American jobs

Port Washington, L.I.: As Verizon is outsourcing work to other countries, so is the New York Life Insurance Company. My sister, a single mom, has been working at New York Life since 1979. She has devoted her life and energies to the job, and now, just as life should be getting better, New York Life has decided to outsource the current loyal employees and give their jobs to barely English-speaking individuals from other countries. The last three months of her employment must be spent teaching her job to these individuals who will replace her. They are also moving the company to New Jersey, taking another business from NewYork.

I am disgusted by the way these loyal employees have been treated, with absolutely no regard for the work they have done. To take these jobs away from hard-working people at ages that will make it very difficult for them to find employment and then make them teach the people who will replace them is unconscionable. We need to encourage industry in our country to retain their valuable workers and not support companies that outsource their work to other countries. Anne M. Alberto

Bag it

Manhattan: Add my voice to that of Voicers Suzanne Lee and Jessica Wolf about the plastic bag fee and its effect on garbage compactor chute use in apartment buildings. There’s an inconsiderate slob on my floor who already throws food directly into the chute. A ban on bags will only embolden her. In an urban area, rats and bugs have a detrimental impact on public health. There’s more than one way to consider the environment. Diane Moriarty

Senior special

Brooklyn: The City Council and the mayor should exempt senior citizens on Social Security and Medicare from paying five cents per bag when they go to the supermarket. Senior citizens have a hard enough time purchasing food. Charles R. Clouden

Raising a raise

Woodmere, L.I.: Re the raise received by carriage horse drivers (“Hay now!” May 23): 8% is good for sure. How about our policemen and firefighters as well? Mike Schmidt

Unholy Madonna

Elmont, L.I.: Here is some advice for Madonna, who illegally placed “No Parking” signs in front of her Manhattan home: You are not God. God lives on Times Ave. in Elmont and he wears orange construction cones. Bob Castronovo

Where they can park it

Bronx: To city forestry employees: Do you want me to believe you lack the imagination, common sense or brains to figure out how to place a tree so it will land between two parked cars? Instead you plop the tree so it lands in front of the passenger door, and people have to exit into a pile of dirt and mulch. When two spots fit between two driveways, all you need to do is just place the tree midway between them. Dawn Hanna

Bomb that saved lives

Howard Beach: Is this debate going to go on forever (“Why Obama should apologize for Hiroshima,” Op-Ed, May 26)? President Truman used the atom bomb to end World War II. My two late husbands both served in the South Pacific. God only knows if they would have survived the invasion of Japan. Jean Novak

Don’t walk sign

Freehold, N.J.: To Voicer Beverly Alexander: Oh, how a liberal mind works. Who are you to decide how an entire graduating class should react to a school edict? Maybe the boy with the beard didn’t thrill the rest of his classmates, so they went ahead and got their graduation certificates without his being present. Richard Doll

Missed shot

Bayonne: Donald Trump is outraged yet again about jobs going out of the country. The PGA is moving a tournament from his course to Mexico (“Golf rout in a Mexit,” June 2). Per Trump, this is exactly why he’s running: to stop Americans from losing jobs and communities from losing revenue. He thinks the media are all liberals who are out to get him. Why hasn’t anyone in the “liberal” media questioned where his daughter’s clothing line is made? It isn’t the U.S.A. If he can’t get family onboard, how is he supposed to get corporations to fall in line? Talk about being a hypocrite. Patricia Cummings

Man to man

Rockaway Beach: To the staff of Bernie Sanders: No. 2? No, Bernie is the No. 1 candidate against Donald Trump in every poll. If Trump is not a coward, he will debate Sanders on the solutions that each offers. Stephen Wohl

Trump’s next sales job

Great Neck, L.I.: Donald Trump will be speaking at a huge upcoming fundraiser that will be SRO. SRO standing for Sellout Republicans Only. Eliot Gonshorek

The Wright stuff

Staten Island: To Voicer Francis Marrow: Please continue to pray to the Blessed Mother and to God, now for David Wright. Your prayers worked for Matt Harvey. Regina Murphy

Gone soft

Camillus, N.Y.:How long will it take for the New York Yankees’ owners to replace a manager who is useless? Oh how I wish George Steinbrenner were still here. They need a manager who keeps them running all of the time instead of worrying who will get the day off. The prima donna millionaires love the DL also. Come on, people, let’s get Joe Girardi replaced so that we get a guy who can keep the players motivated. We are getting real sick to see such a wonderful team go down the tubes. Neil Agrasto

Brian and Joe got to go

Rio Rancho, N.M.: Did anyone really believe the Yankees were going to do something when they reached .500? All it did was confirm that this is nothing more than a mediocre team. How’s this for a power lineup: Gardner (.211), McCann (.224), Teixeira (.185), Rodriguez (.174), Headley (.230). I was under the assumption that these were the guys who would carry the team. Yeah, carry it right into the crapper. Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi need to go. Tom Sullivan

Bonds. Barry Bonds.

Arlington, Tex.: Re “Barry Bonds regrets how he acted during his playing days” (June 2): My husband, daughter and I were walking through San Francisco airport many years ago when I saw a tall gentleman with earrings walk toward us. I recognized who he was and smiled and went up to him and said, “Hi, aren’t you Barry Bonds?” This tall person (no longer a gentleman in my mind) swaggered right past us and answered, “Yes, I am” and kept going. I could not believe the arrogance of this individual as he strode past our daughter, who is an avid baseball fan. All the apologies in the world from this egomaniac will never make up for the smug, self-righteous, I-am-better-than-you attitude he displayed that day. He is an embarrassment to the game of baseball and to his father. I pray he never ever gets into the Hall of Fame. Mary Andreola

Danger zones

Brooklyn: Re “Boy’s tragic fall” (June 2) The kids are on these high porches and balconies all they time. I drive through the area to see my niece and I always ask myself “where are the parents?” To be honest, and I thank God that it doesn’t, I’m surprised this sort of accident does not happen more often. The kids playing on these dangerous balconies is old news that’s been going on for years! It’s just sad that no one calls attention to it until something this tragic happens. Kate Tiru

Little Eva

Bellerose: Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz is going to close her pre-kindergarten program because she can’t force the city to fund it unconditionally (“Pre-K cut in power war,” June 2). In other words, she is going to take her marbles and go home. Little Eva needs to learn the lessons of pre-K herself. Robert Berger

Sing it again

Secaucus: I just watched the end of “Nashville” and am begging ABC to reconsider its cancellation, or CBS or NBC to bring “Nashville” to their network. It’s a great show with so much emotion and talent. The ending leads me to believe there is so much more for us to enjoy. The show must go on. Connie Schoenrock


Bronx: Executives at ABC are making a big mistake. There are a number of TV shows that should be cancelled. “Nashville” is not one of them. The acting, the storyline and especially the music are outstanding. So sad to see it end. Rosanne Barile

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Knoxville officials expect big savings in outsourcing management of venues

Preparations are made for a show by Sister Hazel to benefit the Knoxville Fire Fighters Association Saturday at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum. Knoxville expects to save more than $500,000 next year by outsourcing the management of Chilhowee Park and the Civic Auditorium and Coliseum. (PAUL EFIRD/NEWS SENTINEL)

City worker Mark Ryan sets up for a Knoxville Fire Fighters Association benefit concert Saturday at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum. The city is close to finalizing a contract to manage the Civic Auditorium and Coliseum and Chilhowee Park with SMG, the same firm that manages the Knoxville Convention Center. (PAUL EFIRD/NEWS SENTINEL)

By Megan Boehnke Megan.Boehnke@Knoxnews.Com 865-342-6432

Knoxville officials expect a savings of more than $500,000 next year — most of it in salaries — by outsourcing the management of Chilhowee Park and the Civic Auditorium and Coliseum.

The city is close to finalizing a contract with SMG, the same firm that manages the Knoxville Convention Center, and hopes to have a deal in place this week, said Christi Branscom, deputy to Mayor Madeline Rogero.

In the meantime, SMG and the city have been sorting out the futures of 22 employees across the two facilities. So far, five workers have transferred to other departments in the city, four have committed to staying with SMG and seven remain undecided on their future. Others decided to retire, take jobs elsewhere or are currently on workers’ compensation, Branscom said.

“About everyone is situated,” she said. “I think they wanted to try to keep people there who had a real understanding of the operation and the physical plant, because they are older facilities.”

SMG, which was the only company to submit a bid for the long-term contract, was given temporary control of the Chilhowee Park and the Coliseum in October after three Auditorium and Coliseum employees were terminated and the general manager retired following a payroll-fraud investigation. Those departures left a management void at the Auditorium and Coliseum, leading city officials to enter an emergency contract with SMG.

The company, during city budget hearings last month, asked for $474,000 less in operating expenses across both facilities for the upcoming fiscal year. SMG also asked for $74,000 less to run the Convention Center, though most of the savings is from increased revenue from more bookings, said Mary Bogert, the Convention Center’s general manager who is also overseeing the Knoxville Auditorium and Coliseum.

City Council members approved the changes — along with the rest of the city’s upcoming budget — at their meeting last month.

Branscom said the city could end up saving an additional $100,000 in operating funds under the new contract.

The city had budgeted 36 employees at the two sites, but 10 of those positions were vacant and another four opened up after employees were dismissed in the investigation.

The largest anticipated savings comes from salaries and wages, Bogert said.

“There are some redundancies in staffing in the facilities, mainly in the executive and management teams,” she said. “Instead of having a general manager for each location, SMG is that management arm. When we restructured, there is one finance team over all three facilities, one (human resources) team over all three facilities. There’s a lot of savings.”

Most of the employees who opted to transfer to another city department did so to preserve their pensions, whether they wanted to stay in their roles at SMG or not. Some who transferred will likely take on a part-time role with SMG, she said.

“Everyone got so nervous — ‘SMG is coming over, we’re all going to lose our jobs, we’re going to get fired’ — and that’s just not the case,” Bogert said. “We had hoped to keep more of the employees who have already transferred to the city, because there’s an incredible amount of value in the history they have.”

Of the seven unsettled employees, Branscom said four will likely stay with SMG, another will likely retire, two others are still deciding.

On July 1, if the contract is in place, all the employees at the Auditorium and Coliseum and Chilhowee Park will become employees of SMG.

Along with streamlining departments across the three sites, Bogert said an improvement in bookings also has been seen.

When a client recently asked about using the Coliseum, Bogert said the facility would have been too large. Instead, she recommended the Jacob Building at Chilhowee Park.

SMG also has access to a master calendar across all the company’s facilities in the U.S., making it easier for tours and concerts to check for availability and schedule a stop in Knoxville along their route.

“The synergy is already happening between the buildings, and we are able to take a client who maybe we don’t have the space for them at the Convention Center, but we have space for them at Chilhowee Park,” she said.

Megan Boehnke thumbnail

Guest column: School health services are not a promising target for outsourcing

Outsourcing government services is growing in popularity with politicians from both sides of the aisle as governments search for ways to reduce spending. As a fiscal conservative, I am always looking to cut costs, but our school health system is not an area that can be cut without reducing services to our 80,000 students and county residents.

Recently, it was leaked that County Executive Steve Schuh was moving forward, without the consent of the Board of Health or the Board of Education, to consider outsourcing our school health system. While the administration “regretted” the disclosure, this highlights a lack of transparency around the study of a service that should have included all of the stakeholders, not a secret group.

About two years ago, a lone nurse began advocating for better pay and benefits. Her request was not related to poor management, lack of advancement or inefficiencies, all of which are unsubstantiated claims by the county executive. In my five years on the County Council, I have heard those complaints about other areas of county government, but never school health.

The county executive has admitted that these employees are underpaid, and I agree, but you cannot pay more, maintain the level of care and outsource without increasing costs.

Good public policy is the result of an informed decision made with input from all of the stakeholders via a public process. Not only are multiple stakeholders important, but in this case the state code clearly says that a county school board, with the assistance of the county Health Department, shall provide “adequate school health services.” The county Health Department is referred to as assisting the Board of Education, which means the legality of a change without input from the board is questionable.

Letter: School health program

Letter: School health program

School health program

In public health circles, Anne Arundel County holds a well-deserved reputation for innovation and success and the county’s school health program is regarded as a high performer.

It provides both basic and sophisticated care to over 80,000 students every school day. Students…

School health program

In public health circles, Anne Arundel County holds a well-deserved reputation for innovation and success and the county’s school health program is regarded as a high performer.

It provides both basic and sophisticated care to over 80,000 students every school day. Students…

Read the story

Assuming it is legal to bypass the council (sitting as the Board of Health) and the Board of Education, that brings up the question: “What methodology should be used to investigate contracting?”

The majority of outsourcing strategists agree that models like those developed by Alan Speaker are logical. Mr. Speaker, an outsourcing consultant, suggests that functions should be judged based on their strategic value (high or low) and nature (transactional or relationship-oriented).

County trash collection is currently contracted out, and when rated using this model is an ideal candidate. Trash pickup is of low strategic value and is transactional in nature — therefore, it represents an excellent target for outsourcing. In contrast, our school health service employees are of high strategic value and are relationship-oriented.

George Arlotto: School nurses essential to our mission

George Arlotto: School nurses essential to our mission

Over the course of the last two weeks, there has been a considerable discussion surrounding the news that County Executive Steve Schuh is exploring ways to find efficiencies in the School Health Program, which the county’s Department of Health operates.

The conversations that have erupted have…

Over the course of the last two weeks, there has been a considerable discussion surrounding the news that County Executive Steve Schuh is exploring ways to find efficiencies in the School Health Program, which the county’s Department of Health operates.

The conversations that have erupted have…

(George Arlotto)

Did you know over 30 percent of our students suffer from a chronic health issue? Our health room staff are not just putting on bandages (transactional) but are ensuring Johnny has his inhaler for a field trip (high strategic value). When Suzy, who is diabetic, needs the proper calculation for her insulin, the nurse has to figure out the dosage and administer the injection.

Not only are school nurses required to triage for health care, but they are part of the assessment team for cognitive and medical accommodations, which requires specialized educational training not easily provided by a hospital nurse or someone from a temporary staffing agency. These employees are a part of their students’ lives (relationship-oriented) and are of great strategic value because they manage chronic health issues.

If the administration had targeted a transactional function of low strategic value, I doubt anyone would have cared as long as it saved money. Outsourcing trash collection is one thing, but outsourcing the health care of our students without cost savings is a decision best approached with all of the stakeholders at the table, not a sole-source contract that bypasses the competitive bidding process.

If you have thoughts on this topic, please send me an email at, or call me at 410-222-1401.

Jerry Walker, R-Crofton, represents District 7 on the County Council.

Yost vs. Scarnecchia: Round 2 on outsourcing

By Jordan Cohen


The communications director for Ohio Auditor Dave Yost blamed the opposition to outsourced income-tax collections by Mayor Thomas Scarnecchia on “political reasons” that overlook the 2014 performance audit showing annual savings of $138,000 with an outside agency.

“We suspect the savings may be even greater,” said Benjamin Marrison, who described the $138,000 as “a conservative calculation.”

The savings include the state auditor’s suggestion that one full-time employee be retained for customer service.

“Financially, the data makes clear such a move would be good for the city’s taxpayers,” Marrison said.

The communications director was reacting to Friday’s Vindicator story, in which Scarnecchia, in a letter to city council, said he was looking for proof of cost savings before going with Regional Income Tax Agency and eliminating the tax department.

The mayor had removed the outsourcing provision from the city’s financial recovery plan that had been put in by his predecessor, Ralph Infante.

Yost, who last week strongly criticized the mayor’s objections to outsourcing, sent a letter to Interim Treasurer Janet Rizer-Jones encouraging contracting with RITA.

Marrison suggested the mayor pay closer attention to the figures in the 2014 audit, which show the average cost for outside agency tax collection is 2 cents per dollar collected compared with the city’s higher cost of 5 cents per dollar.

“While the savings may seem insignificant, those pennies add up to far more than $100,000 and some peer communities are paying less than 2 cents on the dollar,” Marrison said in a written statement.

According to Amy Arrighi, RITA chief legal counsel, the agency charges 3 percent from its members’ tax collections each year.

Arrighi said if RITA’s calculations show that a municipality’s cost is actually “less than the 3 percent retained, the difference is refunded to the member.”

Youngstown and Girard, which have used RITA for more than a decade, have reported receiving sizable annual rebates.

The figures cited in the 2014 audit were based on annual tax revenues of $5.7 million, however Rizer-Jones said latest projections indicate Niles may collect more than $7 million this year because of the half-percent increase in the city income tax and a change in business collection methods from quarterly to monthly.

That should not make a difference in the state’s calculations, Marrison said.

“Based on a cursory look at peer communities and the 2014 cost in Niles, a $1 million increase does not move the needle to make keeping it in-house economical,” Marrison said.

The mayor had minimal comment when informed of Marrison’s statements. “I am exploring all possibilities,” was all he would say Friday.

In his letter to council, Scarnecchia expressed concerns about many senior citizens who usually make their income-tax payments at city hall and worried about turning a “deaf ear” to their needs.

Marrison was not sympathetic, however.

“The good people of Niles are as capable of getting their taxes filed properly as the many other communities – including Youngstown – that have outsourced their income-tax collections,” Marrison said.

The hidden cost of outsourcing

(Opinion) — The Australian legal profession continues to undergo a dramatic transformation from the increasing trend to utilise offshore Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO).

The prolific use of LPO’s in the market has ensured the benefits and disadvantages of outsourcing are well documented by industry commentators. Benefits include reduced costs, increased flexibility and shortened turnaround times such benefit must be balanced against increased data security risk, confidentiality and ethical issues that may arise.

The problem is when choosing to outsource the decision-making process only focuses on the impact at the client-lawyer level, which gives rise to the question: Are we giving enough thought to the long-term impact outsourcing is having on the Australian Legal Profession?

Let’s begin by acknowledging that the group most affected by the increased use of LPO’s are paralegals, graduates and junior lawyers. Services traditionally performed by paralegals and entry-level lawyers, low-level and quasi legal work such as document review, due diligence and legal research, are among the services most outsourced. This point has not been overlooked by the Australian Law Students’ Association (ALSA).

In a position paper published in 2013, ALSA expressed their concern about the future prospects for law graduates (the Paper), highlighting that law student supply already far outweighs the demand for legal workers with the ratio being close to 1:3, with the major Australian firms routinely receiving 30-50 applications per graduate position being offered. If those figures were not concerning enough, bear in mind they do not include the ever increasing admissions across all universities following the Government pursuing deregulation in the education sector.

From an economic and business perspective this detrimental impact on graduates can be justified by citing reduced costs for firms in the form of lower wages, office space and training spending, reduced legal spend for clients, and easing the work loads of senior lawyers to focus on high value, technical work. What about the noneconomic costs a firm suffers as a result?

By outsourcing junior roles a firm loses the ability to train graduates into corporate thinking from the outset and foster a sense of loyalty to the firm.  A smaller graduate pool means fewer lawyers in the market place networking and attracting clients to the firm, fewer lawyers to identify the future rising stars from and fewer lawyers within the firm’s ranks for succession planning.

Some universities in Australia are already looking at trying to combat the problem the graduates are facing by changing how legal education is delivered. The thinking is that the learning of law students should be accelerated so they can hit the ground running.

Professor Warwick Gullett, Dean of University of Wollongong’s Law School, is currently overseeing a review of the University’s Bachelor of Law program and aims to increase the practical training component of the degree to ensure UOW graduates are employable.

However, it is arguable that outsourcing on its own is not the problem. The benefits of outsourcing far outweigh the disadvantages and as a business model it should be embraced. The problem is in most instances outsourcing means offshoring and for me, therein lies the problem. The traditional roles the graduates cut their teeth on are not just being lost, they are being lost overseas.

No amount of formal education can substitute what level lawyers learn coming in practice and working their way up from the ground. So is there an alternative solution? I am a firm believer the answer is yes, and it combines the best of both worlds. The answer is onshore outsourcing.

I am COO of Unison Outsourcing. Unison is an LPO that operates entirely onshore in regional New South Wales using Australian lawyers, paralegals, graduates and law students. Unison predominantly performs ‘commoditised’ legal work, the exact type of work that graduates and junior lawyers would traditionally perform in a traditional law firm.

At Unison we believe that when a customer aligns with us, we are doing more than just performing their commoditised style of work, we are also training the next generation of lawyers and potentially the customer’s future recruits. Overtime many of our team members become intimately involved in the customer’s business. We actively encourage secondments into the customer’s operations where appropriate and we take great pride when a team member leaves to join our customer. 

To run a business like Unison you do have to acknowledge many of your team members will use the time with your firm as a stepping stone on their career path. Instead of spending large amounts of resources trying to retain team members that are looking for the next challenge, we have embraced our role in training the next generation of up and coming lawyers.

We at Unison are proud of our modest efforts in this area but we believe that more should be done to challenge the current offshore trend and give support to the Australian legal profession. It is our hope that customers consider alternative options to offshoring by looking to New Law providers such as Unison for innovative delivery models that benefit the profession as well as the end client. 

By Paul Bartholomew, chief operating officer, Unison Outsourcing.

Rajnath Singh urges US to have a ‘rational’ view on outsourcing

Swati Rathor | TNN | Jun 3, 2016, 10.33 PM IST

Rajnath Singh

HYDERABAD: Union home minister Rajnath Singh, who inaugurated the fourth edition of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (IACC) national conclave in the city on Friday, said the US must have a “rational” view on the issue of outsourcing.

“Talented Indian youth has proved to be a great asset for US companies. There is a view that the entry of Indian employees must be restricted in the US but I would not like to say much on this issue … but on the issue of outsourcing, I expect the US authorities to take a ‘rational’ view,” Singh said.

In the run-up to the presidential elections in the US, there has been much hue and cry about the issue of outsourcing of local jobs to countries like India and China. Singh further stressed that in the age of free trade, “protectionism” must be done away with.

Addressing IACC members, the Union minister explained the various initiatives of the central government such as – Make in India, Skill India and Digital India. He claimed that the business environment in the country has significantly improved under the new NDA regime and the country is now gunning for a double digit growth.

He pointed out that the government has been focusing on improving the ‘ease of doing business’ quotient in the country. Citing the example of his department, he said that earlier the home ministry used to grant security clearances to companies investing in India for three years, which has now been extended to 10 years. “Going ahead, I would like to ensure that the security clearance is only required once,” he added.

Speaking about trade relations between India and the US, he said that bilateral trade that currently stands at $103 billion can touch $500 billion by 2020.

The home minister mentioned many sectors such as real estate, energy and smart cities, among others, where the two countries can collaborate to improve trade ties. He said the rural economy provides immense opportunities in terms of investment and technological interventions in the areas of irrigation and agriculture, among others.

The minister further pointed out that it is important for both the countries to enhance cooperation in the area of homeland and cyber security as without a conducive and secure environment, business cannot thrive in any part of the world. Some of the other sectors, where the home minister called for enhanced cooperation, included the likes of real estate, smart cities and healthcare among others.

Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana governor ESL Narasimhan urged investors to focus on the SME sector and invited them to invest in both the Telugu speaking states. “The ease of doing business in both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana is very good. And both the states provide ‘safe and secure’ environment,” he said.

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Parents outsourcing task of teaching kids how to ride a bike

On the list of indicators that we are in end times, we offer this from today’s Boston Globe: Some parents aren’t teaching their kids how to ride a bike anymore. They’re outsourcing the task.

“Having someone with patience, who’s done it before [is helpful],” said one bike shop owner.

It’s not that the bike shops are foisting this on parents; they’re trying to meet the demand of parents, the newspaper says.

Some parents seek teaching help because they don’t know how to ride a bike themselves. Others are too busy. Many can’t take the whining.

In Somerville, Lydgate was thrilled to stand by and watch as Susan McLucas — a grandmotherly woman with the world’s calmest vibe — taught Lydgate’s daughter, Marina, to ride a bike in 45 emotion-free minutes.

“I didn’t have to be implicated in any way,” she said.

Thirty-one years ago, when McLucas started the Bicycle Riding School , out of a ramshackle barn behind her Davis Square house, her intention was to help “the poor adults who spend their whole life not knowing how to ride.”

But along the way she taught a kid or two, and word spread from one parent to another. Now, demand has grown to the point where the kids have squeezed out the grownups, and McLucas needs to hire another teacher. (She already has one working for her.)

McLucas starts kids coasting down a very gentle slope so they can learn to balance and then teaches them to pedal — sometimes with her in tow, holding them up with a harness.

It’s only going to get worse. Thirteen percent of today’s 18-to-34-year-olds don’t know how to ride a bike and won’t be able to teach their kids.

There’s also another reality behind this. Kids won’t listen to parents. They’ll listen to someone getting paid to do the same thing.