In front of a packed room Wednesday night, the Mat-Su Borough School District (MSBSD) voted 4 to 3 to move forward with a widely criticized request for proposal (RFP).

The district is heading into the next fiscal year with an almost $10 million deficit. In an effort to minimize cuts inside the classroom, the school board has decided to look into outsourcing nutrition and custodian jobs.

MSBSD estimates outsourcing the services could save up to $4.3 million. By voting to move forward with the RFP, the board approved opening the floor for private sector companies to bid on the services.

District superintendent Gene Stone says roughly 200 employees could be laid off.

“These are really difficult decisions,” Stone said. “This is again, this is really just the examination part of it, but you can’t really make a determination as to if there’s really saving there or not if you don’t go and seek the request for proposal.”

Before board members voted, they heard public testimony from more than a dozen people.

Taking the microphone in defense of the school employees were a mix of parents, employees, taxpayers, and even a student.

“I didn’t really think that they were gonna take this as a serious issue, that they would even look at again, because last time it failed miserably,” said high school junior Krystyn Kelly.

“The connections that I have with the janitors, and the nutrition services staff, and the lifelong connections that I’ve made with them and the way that they’ve impacted my life, and so many others, I can’t see [their jobs] go to some company that’s gonna be paying their workers minimum wage,” said Kelly, disappointed in the boards decision.

The vote only allows the board to explore the option to outsource. They’ll have to vote again to move any further.

Upcoming budget open houses:

2/6/17 6:30 p.m. Fronteras Charter School, Wasilla

2/7/17 6:30 p.m. Su-Valley Jr/Sr High School, Talkeetna

2/8/17 6:30 p.m. Iditarod Elementary, Wasilla

2/9/17 6:30 Palmer Jr Middle School, Palmer

KTVA 11’s Daniella Rivera can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter