Huntsville City Schools ditches controversial temporary staffing company

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The Huntsville City Schools board of education voted to award a contract for temporary staffing that's worth just over $12.6 million to Spur Employment on Monday. District leaders said this was the lowest bid, and would save the school system $1 million.

The district previously contracted with PESG for the staffing positions, which include administrative services, instructional services, operations/maintenance, child nutrition program, and IT department services. Spur will staff 658 of those positions within the district.

Spur is formerly Appleton, which held a contract within the district up until PESG was hired.  Back then, one board member had criticized Appleton employees and costs. The school system also faced scrutiny from EPSCO, which sought an injunction against the district over the decision to hire PESG. Appleton had a strong connection with districts around the Tennessee Valley for years.

After PESG was hired, WHNT News 19 learned of multiple lawsuits against the staffing agency over pay. The district had also worked with PESG as it struggled to fill vacancies in September 2018.

Hiring Spur is a departure from the embattled PESG, but leaders said mainly it was a financial decision.

"I had heard complaints when I got here," said Tina Hancock, the district's Chief School Finance Officer who was hired within the year. "Again, I was not familiar with PESG so I didn't know much about them. But for me the biggest thing to look at was the cost."

She added, "What we are looking at with this bid is close to $1 million less than what we were paying.

This contract is a big one for the district, but an important one. "It is definitely one of our bigger contracts. We definitely see a huge cost savings with outsourcing our staff," Hancock said.

She worked with Spur when she was a part of the Hoover school district and feels confident in the work they do.

"I had worked with Spur in the past. They were responsive to all of our needs," she explained.

Hancock said Spur will pay employees the same as PESG did, but they came in as the lowest bidder by reducing overhead costs. She will work on Tuesday to communicate with Spur about setting up their on-boarding process for PESG employees who want to work again next year, this time with Spur. Board members urged interested people to check the Spur website in the coming days.

Spur company representatives also told WHNT News 19 that Spur will host a career fair at the North Alabama Career Center located at 2535 Sparkman Dr. NW in Huntsville from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday. There, they will provide some additional details to workers who wish to transition from PESG.

Also, an engagement event will be held for new and transitioning workers on Friday. It's at the Springhill Suites in downtown Huntsville from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Spur also provided a support number for employees or potential employees who have questions: 1-866-957-9142.

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