Phyllis Bush, champion of public schools

Public schools lost a true champion with the death this week of Phyllis Bush, a retired Fort Wayne teacher and tireless activist who inspired us all with her with her truth-telling and optimism.

Phyllis Bush, right, and Donna Roof

Phyllis Bush, right, and Donna Roof at the 2018 Network for Public Education conference.

Her passion for public schools was in no way abstract or ideological. It came from experience and relationships. She taught school for 32 years, including 24 years at Fort Wayne South Side High School. And she radiated love and loyalty for her fellow teachers and former students.

When she spoke out against school vouchers and charter schools, it was because she hated what they were doing to her beloved public schools and the 90 percent of students who attend them.

She died Tuesday after a lengthy battle against cancer, which she chronicled in a blog that she referred to, with characteristic humor, as “Cancer Schmantzer.”

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Outsourcing in Fort Wayne

Fort Wayne Community Schools expect to save $4.4 million by outsourcing school custodians. The FWCS school board voted 6-1 for an agreement that will “cut wages, shrink custodial staff and force more than 200 custodians to apply for jobs,” according to the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette.

The school corporation is contracting with Sodexo, the international outsourcing giant. According to the J-G, much of the savings will come from eliminating 24 jobs and cutting wages by as much as $6 an hour. The district’s 217 custodians can apply to Sodexo to keep their jobs.

FWCS officials said they regretted having to make the decision but didn’t have much choice given cuts in state funding.

We’re likely to see more outsourcing of nonteaching employees around Indiana as school districts struggle to balance their budgets. Continue reading