Superintendent Scott Cowart said the potential shift was not something he wanted to be discussing with the board.
"And it's not something that's set in stone," Cowart said. "This is only something that's a possibility. It's part of the list of things we're considering. It was just our job to have this option researched so that, if we decide to go along with this, we can do that in a time that's effective."
Current custodians hired in the school system will be given the opportunity for employment through the outside vendor, if the board votes to approve the change.
The outsourcing is an effort that could potentially save up to 25 or more teaching positions for the coming school year.
The board heard from Donald Toole, vice president of the southeastern division of Southern Management, a regionally focused school facility maintenance company, the firm that would be awarded the contract if the board approves the move.
If the pay scale and benefit packages provided by Southern Management in their proposal are voted to stay in effect, the system is estimated to save $1.2 million by outsourcing.
The company also outlined two other options that can be considered, each with different cost savings.
Cowart said the decision was being brought to the board now so that, if the board chooses to proceed with the outside vendor, a transition time of two months will allow for an early-summer start time, which is suggested.
Having the transition complete by June 1 would defer opportunity costs to a month of savings in the system's current year budget.
Board Chairman Dr. Jon Anderson called the potential change a "tragedy" to talk about and that it keeps him up at night.
"As much as we value our custodians, we have to stay as far away from the classroom as we can," Anderson said.
As for custodians currently hired by the school system, they will be interviewed and have to pass a pre-screening and background check to be employed with the vendor if its proposal is accepted.
Toole said 85-90 percent of current custodians come on board initially, and said custodians in the Harris County school district — which outsources its custodians to Southern Management — has 60 percent of their former employees still on staff after five years of outsourcing.
Cowart said that if a decision is made to outsource the services on Thursday, meetings and transition details would begin immediately — to make sure custodians are aware of their options and to give a full two months to work through the human resources details and have a plan in place for the June 1 transition date.
Also planned to be voted upon Thursday is a reduction in force (RIF) plan that, if approved, will result in the elimination of 10 positions in the system.
Dr. Christi Teal, assistant superintendent of human resources and student services, reviewed the proposed plan with the board, which voted to place on Thursday's consent agenda.
Items placed on the consent agenda are voted on simultaneously because no discussion or opposition is expected.
Eight of the 10 positions expected to be eliminated will come from Temple High School because a multi-million dollar grant the school has received for several years — the School Improvement Grant — is ending. Six of the positions are certified, with the remaining two being classified.
If approved, the RIF plan will also eliminate two coordinator positions at the district level: the Title I Coordinator position and one of the IDEA Coordinator positions that is currently vacated and will remain unfilled.
Teal said Cowart will take action consistent with Georgia's Fair Dismissal Act to implement the RIF plan arising from the elimination of these programs.
As for the overall budget, Cowart said there has been little new information over the last month. However, he said, much more information is expected by April's work session, as the state Legislature concludes its decisions on how much money the system will receive.
"I'm hoping that next month I will be able to tell you not what I'm projecting but what's real," Cowart said.
Cowart was able to show four areas of progress in the budget considerations that have been made in the past month, including the custodian outsourcing and RIF plan, as well as completing draft allotments for each school.
As stated during the discussion on custodial outsourcing, that shift would save approximately $1,200,000 for the Fiscal Year 2014 budget.
The draft allotments completed for each school based on the three-over-maximum class size waiver the system has with the state Department of Education is also estimated to save about $1,000,000.
The majority of these savings will come via attrition, or teacher turnover, Cowart said.
"We went to each principal and asked them, 'If the worst-case scenario happened, what should we cut?'" Cowart told the board. "And we got some clear answers that we are hopefully going to be able to translate into dollars saved if the worst case happens."
Cowart also reported on the projections for how much money will be in the system's fund equity — or reserves — come June.
The analysis sheet for the fund equity reflects the current projection of an estimated $13.86 million at the end of June. The original projection for the fund equity was $10.66 million.
Cowart said that number has increased so drastically by teachers and administrators "squeezing every dollar" they can to save money without hurting instruction.
Last year, the board voted to take $2.3 million (approximately 19 percent) from the reserves, which stood at the time at $12.4 million, to balance the budget.
Anderson has previously expressed a desire to keep the reserves at or above $10 million, approximately 10 percent of the system's budget.
The board is currently expecting a $5-6 million shortfall.
Also during Monday's work session:
• Chief Financial Officer James Fulford, in his first board meeting in the position, gave the system's financial reports for January and February.
Fulford said that the system is about 66 percent through the year in both time and revenues and expenditures, meaning the system is on budget.
• Cynthia Langley, the executive director of the local affiliate of Communities in Schools — which serves both the county and city systems — gave the board an update on how the program is working out on site at Villa Rica High School.
Langley said the 83 students currently served via CIS at Villa Rica High have been successful since the program's start last summer.
"Having no graduation coaches there at Villa Rica High, this has helped us in that respect a little bit," Cowart said. "It obviously hasn't taken the place of that, but we appreciate their participation and what Cynthia does. As with any partnership, we're learning as we go along."
The program has been concerned with raising attendance rates, which the site coordinator at VRHS identified as a problem issue for the at-risk students.
Students have also been linked with several other resources to succeed, including credit recovery classes and services to correct family issues, Langley said.
• The board heard from Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Stan Davis, who reported on the system's push for more Advanced Placement classes, as well as a higher amount of students dually enrolled at either the University of West Georgia or West Georgia Technical College.
Davis said 134 students are now dually enrolled at one of those two institutions, a number that's jumped this year, up from 71 last year.
A similar increase has been seen in AP participation, with 943 students enrolled in AP classes, compared to 839 students in 2012.