Custodial outsourcing back on discussion table
Camden — Bob Calderwood, president of Megunticook Bus Drivers and Custodians Association, said April 10 the custodial contract will be removed from tabled status and on the agenda April 16.
Verbal confirmation was received by Calderwood from Maine School Administrative District 28 School Board Chairman Matt Dailey, he said, and the meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Camden-Rockport Middle School and is open to the public.
“This is very real and we need a show of support at the board meeting,” Calderwood said. “It is time that those in favor of outsourcing listen to those who are not and are paying our salaries and feel we are worth every penny.”
He added, “I feel the number of people that support us, is greater than the ones who don’t, so [the custodians] need those people to come out and be heard.”
A Joint Committee on Outsourcing was created back in June and charged with exploring if it would save the district money to contract custodial work at Camden Hills Regional High School, Camden-Rockport Middle School and Camden-Rockport Elementary School.
In December, the Five Town Community School District School Board voted not to outsource custodial services upon recommendation from the committee, citing no savings would result from outsourcing custodial work at the high school.
There were different committee findings for SAD 28 -- it may be possible to save more than $135,000 by outsourcing custodial services at Camden-Rockport Elementary and Middle schools.
“Sometimes it’s not about the money, but the service that you receive,” Calderwood noted. “After 4 p.m. we are the only district employees in the buildings most of the time, so if something happens that involves a student or school property during an after school event, we have protocols in place to make sure the situation is taken care of properly.”
Calderwood also said he and the other custodians are mandated by state law to report situations of abuse, just like other school staff.
“We don’t even know if those who are contracted to work in the building will be mandated or not, but my guess is even if they are, they won’t feel like it is their responsibility to do so,” he said.
In a previously published report, Chairman of the Joint Committee on Outsourcing and school board member Tori Manzi said she felt the board had a duty to examine the outsourcing question in the context of the budget as a whole.
If the board decides to outsource custodial services, Bangor-based Maine Real Estate Management is the likely candidate to receive the contract, leading to termination of local employees.
“Keeping the jobs local, as well as the paycheck connected to it, goes a long way to boosting the local economy,” Calderwood said. “By outsourcing, money that was being spent locally paying property taxes or at a grocery store and such now will be spent up around Bangor and not down here.”
According to Calderwood, approximately 9 percent of the total cost of custodial services contracted through Maine Real Estate Management will leave the Camden-Rockport area if the school board votes in favor of outsourcing.
Dwight Collins is a reporter/photographer for The Camden Herald.
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