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Maintenance backlog still plagues DeKalb County (Ga.) district

The district contracted with a firm 3 years ago to address the backlog, but it still has more than 3,300 outstanding service requests.

The DeKalb County (Ga.) School District spends millions of dollars each year on vendors to help address maintenance issues at its 137 schools, but the district still cannot keep up with the number of requests it receives.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that three years ago the district agreed to pay SCC Service Solutions $5.4 million a year to help deal with a backlog of maintenance requests.

Despite spending more than $11 million with the vendor, DeKalb County still had more than 3,300 outstanding service requests at the end of January,. 

When school district officials issued the request to contract with SSC Service Solutions in 2016, they portrayed the move as part of the district’s efforts to decentralize maintenance efforts to “continually improve operational efficiencies and provide for a safe, clean and well managed environment for students, faculty and parents.”

But DeKalb County still has a mish-mash of vendors and system employees tasked with various maintenance duties. According to spending reports, dozens of other vendors receive funds for facilities maintenance for various services, including supplies, building maintenance and “other” services. 

Some have complained hiring outside vendors to address the district’s facilities issues was never the right decision.

School board member Joyce Morley says vendors don’t have the investment in the district to perform exceptional work or address concerns in a timely manner. SSC Service Solutions, she says, has too much control of the district’s maintenance management processes without enough oversight from district officials.

“We have turned our maintenance people over to them,” she says. “We’re housing them and they’re basically in charge of our computers and systems. They’re managing the workload. I don’t think (the operations divisions) has a handle on things at all.”

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