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Just say no: Three lawmakers urge NSCC to decline outsourcing

Rick Wagner • Jun 29, 2018 at 1:30 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — Three Northeast Tennessee Republican lawmakers are urging Blountville-based Northeast State Community College to consider “alternative plans” to outsourcing its custodial, landscaping and maintenance services to Jones Lang and LaSalle.

That’s the same company that the University of Tennessee system rejected. Republican Gov. Bill Haslam supports such outsourcing although Democrats and Republicans have opposed it, and East Tennessee State University President Brian Noland has declined outsourcing. Austin Peay University has outsourced its janitorial services under the contract.

WHAT DOES NSCC PRESIDENT SAY?

“I am appreciative of the concerns for the college’s employees as voiced by Reps. Matthew Hill, Timothy Hill and Micah Van Huss,” NSCC Interim President James King said Thursday afternoon. “I plan to give full consideration to the recommendations put forth by the Northeast Tennessee legislative delegation regarding the Jones Lang and LaSalle proposal. I have emphasized to the college’s maintenance and custodial staff that Northeast State will evaluate the proposal fully and act in the best interests of the college and its employees.”

The company has been “making the rounds” at schools across Tennessee, according to Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) spokesman Rick Locker. A JLL representative recently met with King. A search for a permanent replacement for King, appointed to replace the retired Janice Gilliam, will begin soon with the goal of having a new president in place by the first of the year.

WHAT DOES TBR SAY?

“It’s my understanding that the state’s contractor asked to make proposals to each college. The college presidents will receive a customized proposal, tailored to their individual campus, for them to see if there are possible cost savings and whether it makes sense for the college. The decision on whether to contract for any, all or none of the services is each president’s to make,” said Locker. “When JLL made its initial, more generic presentation last year, I believe Cleveland State Community College was the only TBR institution that decided to contract with them for some facilities services.”

WHAT DO THREE LAWMAKERS SAY?

On Thursday, state Reps. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough; Timothy Hill, R-Blountville; and Micah Van Huss, R-Johnson City, “encouraged leaders at Northeast State Community College to consider alternative plans to the idea of facilities outsourcing.” The school operates in Blountville, Kingsport, Johnson City and Elizabethton. 

Last year, JLL entered into a contract with the state to provide an option for outsourcing janitorial and maintenance services to state agencies and schools. The three lawmakers Thursday “called upon Tennessee’s colleges and universities to make fiscally responsible decisions that are in the best interests of educators, students and employees,” according to the release.

“I believe institutions like Northeast State must make responsible decisions and consider that their bottom line should not negatively impact these important groups — especially our hardworking families who depend on their current jobs to provide for their loved ones,” Matthew Hill said. “I would ask that officials consider all possible outcomes related to outsourcing their services before moving forward with any new facilities services plans.”

“Outsourcing of jobs may benefit the bottom line on paper, but I would urge Northeast State to also factor in the overall impact to the college, its employees and our community as a whole,” Van Huss said. “Cheaper does not necessarily mean better.”

“It is imperative that our colleges and universities closely examine their budgets before considering outsourcing as a way to address shortfalls and save money,” Timothy Hill said. “I am hopeful that the leaders of our institutions of higher learning are mindful that any outsourcing proposal has the potential to create unnecessary financial burdens on the citizens of our community.”

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