Meeting April 16

Custodial outsourcing back on discussion table

By Dwight Collins | Apr 11, 2014
Courtesy of: Bob Calderwood The outsourcing of custodial services in SAD 28 will be discussed at the April 16 meeting of the school board beginning at 7 p.m. at Camden-Rockport Middle School.

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.

 

Comments (2)
Posted by: Gary Thomas Spinney | Apr 11, 2014 22:47

As a teacher of 35 years in the Camden Rockport schools, I remember when we outsourced custodial services.  If I stayed late to work at school, I did not know who would be in the building.  I remember the uncaring attitudes resulting in a dirty building and the days I got to school in the morning to find my room a shambles ready for me to get the broom and clean it before preparing for my day. (My room had been forgotten, there was too much sickness and not enough staff to go around, or there was another company that had an emergency and everyone got pulled in that direction.) I remember the bag of absorbant each teacher was given to put on mishaps, such as the incidents of throw up, since there were often no custodians during much of the day. Plugged toilets just had to wait until a custodian came in after school.  Many of our present local custodians have been working in our schools for many years. They watched CRES be built and were part of planning the building.  They have a special interest in it and have been trained in the specifics of caring for the building.  These custodians have consistently been with these children and know many of the families.  They know the children by name.  They have empathy and understanding for those with special needs.  My grandchild goes to CRES and I drop him off to walk in by himself only because I know that Jan and Bob are standing along the sidewalk to welcome him as he walks to the door and are there for his safety.  As I arrived at school a little late this morning, I was relieved to see that Greg was just going in from crossing guard and was more than willing to walk in with him.  My grandson mentioned one day that he wanted to wear a pin for the custodians because he just couldn't lose them.  "They're my friends". CRES now locks their door after arrival time until just before dismissal time to keep strangers out of the building.  Why would we feel comfortable to let strangers from a company with rotating personel come into our building at free will and mingle with our children?  We have no idea who these people are. Teachers depend on the willingness of our wonderful, competent, trustworthy custodians to help them with classroom issues, student bonding, setting up for special events, sanding and shoveling, clean-up at a moment's notice, helping someone to their car and just being there consistently from early morning to late night. The list goes on. The school board only speaks of the financial side of the issue.  How can we put a price on the safety of our children and the staff in our schools?  Is it really going to work out cheaper to outsource?  I believe the community would rather pay a small amount more and know that their children are with safe, caring custodians who are keeping their environment clean and healthy.  Please come to the school board meeting Weds. April 16 at 7:00 at the Middle School and support our local custodians.

Carol and Gary Spinney



Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Apr 11, 2014 11:58

Local is good! Keep the money here in the area. Usually a first bid is lower to get the contract and then it goes up. Where is local pride to keep employees from the area? I am so happy the local custodians were neighbors and friends when my children attended the middle and high school. It made me feel that if something was wrong they would know my children and take steps to care for them and call me. Parents leave their children in the care of neighbors, teachers and custodial. It is a good safe feeling. Please look at the budget again.

Mickey "Brown" McKeever



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Dwight Collins
Dwight Collins is a reporter/photographer for The Camden Herald.
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