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Outsourcing helps schools save money without cutting jobs

Outsourcing. When you see that word, you probably think about jobs being shipped overseas, or longtime employees being cut to hire younger – and cheaper – workers.

But outsourcing doesn’t have to be a dirty word, and it can actually help schools and districts save money without laying off existing staff.

By bringing in a support services firm like SSC, schools can:

  • Keep the current, knowledgeable staff already in-house
  • Increase productivity
  • Stop worrying about workers’ compensation, skyrocketing fringe costs, and free up human resources to focus on other responsibilities
  • Save money – 15-20 percent – which can then go to other critical needs, like arts programs and teacher pay
  • Most importantly, improve the look of your schools and make your district more competitive in recruitment and retention


We have developed a detailed transition plan honed through the successful onboarding of hundreds of thousands of associates over many years. This experience has taught us that honest, open, continuous communication is the key to taking employees from a place of fear and resistance to embracing the positive new reality our solutions bring and delivering a new, higher level of performance.

SSC leverages its expertise and resources to achieve significantly higher productivity levels using technology, training and management resources that are beyond the reach of in-house operations.

Eighty percent of a support service’s department budget is labor. Higher productivity means fewer workers – and a lower cost – but an increased quality in facilities management.

But wait, you’re thinking, you said we could save money without cutting a bunch of jobs.

You’re right. That’s where attrition comes in.

Gradual employee transition happens naturally, at a rate around 10 percent annually. As worker productivity increases, vacant positions can be eliminated while maintaining a high standard of work. Staffing levels go down without forcing employees out of their jobs and without breaking promises with the school community.

In this structure, cost-savings are attained in a way that’s sustainable and respectful of existing employees, and that maintains good morale and a spirit of teamwork.

When Lake Travis Independent School District in Texas transitioned custodial services to SSC in 2015, 92 percent of staff members also decided to make the transition, and the district was able to save 18 percent of its prior year’s custodial budget.

“The positive feedback has been overwhelming,” said Johnny W. Hill, assistant superintendent for business, financial and auxiliary services at Lake Travis ISD.

“In my opinion, the three main factors that set SSC apart from the rest of the crowd (are) their level of commitment to employees during the transition period, their commitment to providing the highest level of services to the educational entity and, finally, their commitment to providing a cost-effective solution to their clients.”

Want to learn more? Get in touch with us to see if outsourcing support services makes sense for your facilities.

For more stories like this, subscribe to the SSC Monthly newsletter. Get news about the latest trends in education and support services, plus tips from our knowledgeable and experienced staff about how to make your facilities run smoothly — and save money.

As state school funding declines dramatically, districts look for new ways to save money

Hiring quality teachers. Cutting class sizes. Modernizing classrooms. Renovating facilities. All of these go a long way in boosting student achievement. They also require sufficient funding.

But school districts around the country are struggling with financial shortfalls as states continue to devote significantly less money to K-12 education.

In 29 states, total state funding per K-12 student is lower than it was during the 2007-08 school year, before the Great Recession, according to analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. In 17 states, that percentage drop in total state funding was 10 percent or more, largely because states cut funding and didn’t increase revenue. And in 19 states, local funding fell over the same period.

Arizona saw the biggest state funding change from 2008-2015 (-36.6 percent) followed by Florida (-22 percent), Alabama (-21.6 percent) and Idaho (-18 percent).

On average, 47 percent of school funding comes from the state. State-level K-12 cuts have a negative impact on school districts and students. Financial shortfalls undermine education reform and force school districts to scale back, leading to:

  • Cuts in academic and student programs
  • Reduction in staff
  • Deferred building maintenance and poor learning environments

But there are ways to maintain and even enhance learning environments for students – and save money without cutting staff. Contracting facilities services can save up to 20 percent on facilities’ operating budgets. Those savings could be used to enhance student programs, hire quality teachers and revamp facilities.

Bentonville Public Schools in Arkansas has saved an estimated $300,000 each year on housekeeping expenses since contracting with SSC in 2008.  At Richland Two in South Carolina, SSC helped the district become more environmentally friendly and supported three buildings in attaining LEED certification, while saving the district an estimated $12,000 per employee per year.

Outsourcing custodial services to SSC “helped save us significant dollars and eliminated all personnel headaches in that department,” said former Stephenville (Texas) Independent School District Superintendent Darrell Floyd. “The end result is cleaner buildings for our students and teachers. That’s what we’re after.”

Learn more about contracting your facilities services here, or get in touch with us to schedule a meeting and see if it’s the right choice for your school or district.

For more stories like this, subscribe to the SSC Monthly newsletter. Get news about the latest trends in education and support services, plus tips from our knowledgeable and experienced staff about how to make your facilities run smoothly — and save money.

Why do teachers quit, and what can school districts do about it?

About 8 percent of teachers in the U.S. leave the profession each year, and another 8 percent choose to move to a different school, according to research from the Learning Policy Institute.

Sure, retirement accounts for some of that turnover, but two-thirds of teachers who leave the profession each year are doing so for other reasons, according to LPI. This comes as states across the country face growing teacher shortages. More than 100,000 classrooms had underprepared teachers last year, LPI found in its study, “Teacher Turnover: Why It Matters and What We Can Do About It.”

Teacher turnover is costly. It hurts student achievement and leads to shortages, and it can cost up to $21,000 to replace a new teacher in an urban school district, according to Education Week.

What causes teachers to quit? Here’s what the LPI found:

  • “Dissatisfaction with testing and accountability pressure” (25 percent of those who left): Teachers in low-performing schools felt pressure to “teach to the test” and were worried about losing their jobs if test scores didn’t improve enough.
  • “Lack of administrative support” (21 percent): If teachers don’t feel like their administration is supportive, they’re more likely to leave.
  • “Dissatisfaction with the teaching career” (21 percent): Specifically, teaching assignments and lack of opportunities to provide feedback or advance in their career.
  • “Dissatisfaction with working conditions,” like large class sizes (10 percent) and lack of resources and facilities (9 percent).

Addressing the last issue on that list – bad working conditions – could lead to improvements in other aspects of the profession. SSC has found that when districts outsource their facility services, not only can working conditions improve, but it allows principals to focus more of their time and energy on their teachers and students.

SSC, with the backing of Compass Group, the world’s largest foodservice and support services company, invests in new equipment for schools, while also providing training on best practices to current staff. And, by making operations more efficient, SSC helps districts save money – up to 20 percent on the facilities operating budget – without cutting staff.

Durham Public Schools in North Carolina, for example, has saved an estimated $2 million altogether since it partnered with SSC in 2005.

“Any money that we save goes directly into teaching and learning,” said Minnie Forte-Brown, a member of the Durham Board of Education. “The bottom line is that all goes to help the district accomplish its one goal, which is student achievement and making sure that students are ready for the 21st century.”

Want to learn more? Get in touch with SSC to find out how we can help you spend more time on the people who matter most.

For more stories like this, subscribe to the SSC Monthly newsletter. Get news about the latest trends in education and support services, plus tips from our knowledgeable and experienced staff about how to make your facilities run smoothly — and save money.

Don’t get stuck out in the cold: 8 tips for winter weather driving

When winter weather strikes, drivers face out-of-the-ordinary challenges when they get behind the wheel. Snow, slush or icy roads are involved in nearly 1 in 4 weather-related vehicle crashes. These conditions can make it harder for drivers to see, slow down and stop – all factors that can increase the chances of an accident.

If you must travel during winter weather, preparing your car in advance, knowing the forecast and slowing down are three key ways to help you drive more safely.

Here are some winter driving safety tips to help you prepare for the elements – before you face them – on the road.

Preparing your vehicle

  • Make sure your car is stocked with a winter driving survival kit, including an ice scraper, a snow shovel and sand or salt.
  • Check your tires to determine whether it’s time to replace them or whether you need snow tires.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full so you can run your engine and stay warm if you get stuck or stranded.
  • Keep your windshield wipers in good condition and your windshield fluid reservoir filled so you can clear snow and ice from your windshield.

Driving in winter conditions

  • Take time to clear snow and ice off your car, including your windows, mirrors, lights, reflectors, hood, roof and trunk BEFORE leaving your parking space.
  • Drive with your headlights on, and be sure to keep them clean to improve visibility.
  • Remember that speed limits are meant for dry roads, not roads covered in snow and ice. You should reduce your speed and increase your following distance as road conditions and visibility worsen.
  • Be cautious on bridges and overpasses as they are commonly the first areas to become icy.

Remember, driving in winter weather can be challenging, even for experienced drivers. Slowing down, allowing increased time to come to a stop, wearing your seatbelt, devoting your full attention to the road and being aware of changing conditions can help you drive more safely.

For more stories like this, subscribe to the SSC Monthly newsletter. Get news about the latest trends in education and support services, plus tips from our knowledgeable and experienced staff about how to make your facilities run smoothly — and save money.

5 strategies for keeping your school flu-free

This flu season has been a doozy – one of the worst in the past decade – and the virus has caused schools to close in at least 12 states.

Even for schools that don’t close, the flu can be disruptive, with students coughing and sniffling in class, or falling behind while home sick.

Between 5 and 20 percent of people in the United States get the flu each fall and winter, according to the National Institutes of Health. Moreover, the flu accounted for 39 percent of illness episodes and led to more than 1,075 missed school days over three flu seasons according to a study of more than 1,000 school-aged children published earlier this year in the Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses journal.

Those missed school days can have a huge effect on student outcomes – and the budget.

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How SSC helped Texas A&M weather Hurricane Harvey

In late summer 2017, the areas surrounding Texas A&M saw considerable winds and rain from Hurricane Harvey. The weather event caused massive devastation, leaving in its path leveled homes, businesses, schools, nursing homes, churches and stores, and injuring or killing many. In situations such as this, our SSC team knows it is vital to be prepared, responsive and proactive to ensure the safety of everyone in our communities and get our clients up and running again as soon as possible.

Rather than waiting to see what Harvey would leave behind, our team performed a significant amount of pre-storm work. The team laid out sandbags in problematic areas and prepared the campus for the predicted rainfall. Sump pumps were checked to ensure each was in good working order.

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SSC sent six students to build a clean water well in El Salvador

In August, SSC sent six students to El Salvador with Living Water International, an organization that builds wells across the globe for communities in need of clean water.

Students applied for a scholarship to embark on this journey. Aimee Bourey and Caroline Matlock of Texas A&M College Station, Christine Owojori and Russell Thomas of Prairie View A&M, and Lisseth Diaz and Cesar Villarreal of TAMIU in Laredo made the trip this summer. Sarah Boreen from SSC at TAMU College Station and Ida Noack of Weathermatic joined the students.

SSC funded the trip and Weathermatic sponsored the well. SSC has worked extensively with Weathermatic to make irrigation systems on the TAMU campuses more sustainable. The idea behind the scholarships was to take the savings and bring water to a community in need.

The team spent a week in Puente Viejo in La Paz, El Salvador, a village with a population of 198 living in 36 houses. The students built a well that reached depths of 75 meters, or about 246 feet.

Living Water returned to Puente Viejo soon after the team left to perform a water test. The water tested clean and is ready for the community members to use.

For more stories like this, subscribe to the SSC Monthly newsletter. Get news about the latest trends in education and support services, plus tips from our knowledgeable and experienced staff about how to make your facilities run smoothly — and save money.