08/03/2015 – International Teachers

08/03/2015 – Work/Business
eboard link icon Agenda Item – International Teachers

Administration Requests
It is requested that the Board of Education approve the teacher services agreements with In-talage, Inc. for up to forty five (45) teachers for the 2015-2016 school year in the total amount not to exceed $3,005,000.
Related Board Policies
Policy DJE:Purchasing-III-B.Competitive Selection of Vendors for Non-Capital Projects
3. Purchases or contracts of with a total estimated cost of $100,000.00 or more shall be awarded through a written competitive sealed bid process to the lowest responsible, responsive bidder, or through a competitive request for proposal process where the offer deemed to be most advantageous to the District may be selected. The decision whether to use a competitive sealed bid or a competitive request for proposal shall be made by the Superintendent or his/her designee, based on sound business judgment and the best interest of the District.
Video & Transcript

Dr. Tekshia Ward-Smith (Chief Human Resources Officer) – Due to teacher shortages in the critical needs areas of Math, Science and Special Education, the services of Intalage, Inc. will provide the District with additional staffing resources for filling vacant critical needs areas.  Carla Smith and Michael Walker will provide the board with a synopsis relative to  the selection of this particular company.
Carla Smith (Purchasing Manager) – The RFP16476 International Teachers Service Provider went out on May 21st. It was advertised again on May 28th.   We did have a little difficulty in trying to find  samples relative to this RFP.   We had to search really hard to find one.  We did find one in Savannah.
Once we put it out we did have  a total of  50 vendors that were notified by email.   It was posted in the Champion.   And we went to another venue,  the Georgia Procurement Registry  which had 1300 vendors.  We only got 2 responses.  After the responses were reviewed,  it went to the evaluation committee.
Michael Walker (Chief Legal Officer) – During the evaluation process of the two responses to the RFP, they provided insufficient information for the district to make a determination.  the responses did not provide adequate guarantees that the district’s concerns regarding certain employment practices we’re going to be adequately addressed.
The decision was made to cancel that RFP and move forward pursuant to policy DJE, procurement policy, with as much transparency and competition as is appropriate.  After the RFP was cancelled we moved forward with a request for information from vendors known to the district.
Ward-Smith – We sent 12 questions to three known vendors plus the two that responded.  Our main challenge is to ensure that teachers are paid what they earned.   Secondly, to make sure teachers receive sick leave in accordance with state law.
We received responses from two of the vendors.  After evaluating those responses, we recommended to the superintendent to go with In-talage.  be advised the teachers will receive every dollar they earn. The only fee paid to the vendor is $11,500/teacher fee. That is the fee they use to cover benefits. The district does not provide benefits.
The amount of the contract will not go beyond and above $3,000,000. I have included recommendations from principals for this program.  I have also included Quick Facts Regarding the International Teachers Program.  Teachers will receive up to 12.5 sick days per year. That is consistent with what DeKalb teachers earn.
It is requested that the Board of Education approve the teacher services agreements with In-talage, Inc. for up to 45 teachers for the 2015-2016 school year in the total amount not to exceed $3,005,000.
This is a staffing resource. Principals will not be forced to take a resource. The can interview from this pool of applicants and select one if they choose to.
Vickie Turner (Board of Education) – Will the hiring of these teachers impact the 155.5?
Ward-Smith – Yes.  These teachers will only be hired in the areas of math, science and special ed.  It is widely documented the shortages we have across the country in these areas.
Marshall Orson (Board of Education) – I’ve had some questions about these relationships.  I want to commend you on addressing some of the concerns we had with the system.  Every effort we make to treat these instructors fairly, not just in accordance with the minimum of the law, but as real members of the staff is important.
Our ultimate goal is to reduce our reliance on these kind of agencies.  the superintendent has talked about a longer term plan to address how we do recruitment in addition to what we are already doing.  We have discussed sponsoring our own students in a TFA fashion … Teach For DeKalb.  We are not alone in these struggles particularly in these areas.
There is still a value in having teachers that come from other places and bringing other experiences.  As we look at this issue, we should figure out what weight we put on that value.  Creating visiting teaching opportunities has a value.  Universities do this on a routine basis.  We should see what higher educational objectives this serves.
You said the $11,500 was for benefits and I assume some profit.   I would like to learn a little more about how that breaks down. Are these teachers getting the same benefits.  What part is profit?
Is that $11,500 for one year.
Ward-Smith – It is prorated for partial years.  They are providing benefits at a lower rate.
Orson – They may also be receiving a lower rate of benefits.  That’s a philosophical question.  We want to be fair to these employees.
Are we allowed to hire away these employees?  Granted they can’t work here more than 3 years at a time anyway before they have to go back.
Stan Jester (Board of Education) – The RFP was cancelled and went through another process that DJE allows for?  I wasn’t aware that we could enter into contracts without them being bid on.
Walker – The provisions of DJE are Part III – Subsection B.4.  That contemplates a non competitive selection process for professional services.  It’s a little tenuous within the policy because it refers to a different section.  When the professional services are defined within the policy it lists recruiting agencies as an example by which this type of procurement process would be used.
The district originally decided to use an RFP, but they could have gone with this process to begin with.  The restrictions speak to being as open and transparent and competitive as possible.
The three potential vendors that we were aware of were all given equal access to participate in this non RFP process.
Jester – Obviously want to be as competitive as possible.  The RFP itself,  when it was originally sent out,  limited the request to international teachers.   Why not teachers from the United States?
Ward-Smith – Per our Friday conversation,  we did have the opportunity to engage with a few other vendors not a part of this process.   we sent those questions to over 50 vendors and put it on a national exchange.
Our challenges were one vendor charged up to 40% of the teacher salary plus a $5000 placement fee.   Other vendors charged $10,000, that was Teach For America.  That was for the first and second year.   What we found is that those particular individuals,  it’s a two year term,  so that is a low retention rate.
Ultimately cost was certainly a factor.
Jester – So, if we opened that original RFP up to US vendors as well as international vendors,  that makes at least five or six different responses we would have gotten.
Ward-Smith –  The information was forwarded to the vendors based on the RFP process.
Jester – But the RFP was for International teachers.  So, the local vendors didn’t qualify for this RFP.
Ward-Smith – Correct
Jester – So, if we opened it up to everyone, then we would have received more responses, granted they would have been more expensive.
Ward-Smith – There is nothing that prohibits us from doing that in the future.  But this was just for international teachers.
Jester – So, the idea of the bidding process is first we want to have an open bidding processes.  We want to have as many bidders come and bid, even if they are exorbitantly expensive, we want to see that bid.  And we want to rank them according to best fit.  By limiting to international vendors, we cut out all those vendors locally.
So there’s quite a few local vendors that we could be using as we speak they are just a little more expensive.
Ward-Smith –  They are very expensive.   As we strengthen our salary structure it is my intention to reduce our reliance on this particular contract.   We currently find ourselves with four days before children report, is to find qualified staff at our schools regardless of the vendor they come from.
Dr Steve Green (Superintendent) – What weighed heavily on my decision to accept this recommendation is the historical relationship that we have had with In-terlage.  The 10 years of good service weighs heavily in that vein.  Combined with the cost factor and their history of delivering good outcomes to our children, was a weighting factor for me.
Jester – Sure.  And if we had opened up this to everybody, then we would have had 5, 10 or however many bids even if they were expensive and In-talage would have blown them out of the water because of their history of excellent service.  But, we didn’t have a completed bid process.  We didn’t give them the chance and we don’t see the bids, we don’t see what these prices were, we don’t see any of that.  All we see is that In-talage won this on a no bid.
Moving forward, I would like to see more things bid out when we can.
Turner – Whether more bidders would come to the table or not is speculation.  The charge for HR and our superintendent is to address these vacancies.  If you have found a successful relationship with a vendor, and you can verify their performance in the schools, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
I understand that it sounds like we can expand the pool.  Mr. Jester, to your point, if we are charged with the responsibility of being good stewards over the finances, then why open it up if we know the bids are expensive and there’s no competition.
Our bottom line,  with school starting up in one week,  is to get teachers in the classrooms.  So,  if we found a way to do so,  while it may not have met your requirements or what you think should have happened,  it’s been a weighty responsibility for human resources.
So,  I applaud the effort that have gone. We have legal counsel we are taking their counsel on what we should do.   they have done their due diligence.   While they may not have done what you thought,  I thought it was a diligent effort to get these teachers in place. Let’s move on.
Jim McMahan (Vice Chair – Board of Education) – Very informative packet.  It denoted they provided us with 29 teachers last year.  Were there additional forms we engaged last year.  How many teachers did the additional firms supply.
Ward-Smith – Global Teachers was the other firm we utilized.  They had 29 as well.
Erwin – I would like some clarity on Mr. Jester’s request.  Do you just want to see the documentation on the evaluation process along with a bigger pool of candidates?
Jester – I would like this opened up to a bigger pool of candidates.  Moving forward I would like us to engage a competitive bid process for this service.