2017-11-08 / Front Page

School Board reviews custodial contract, school construction

By Rich Griset

At its monthly business meeting Wednesday night, the School Board discussed the future of custodial services in the school system and received an update on school construction.

Custodial services

During the meeting, Nita Mensia-Joseph, the school system’s chief operations officer, gave a presentation that laid out new options for how the system may handle custodial services going forward.

School cleanliness has become an issue since the division began outsourcing its custodial work during the 2014-15 school year. Though outsourcing saved money, two different contracting companies were unable to deliver the level of cleanliness expected by the school system.

“As everyone knows, our schools are not cleaned consistently with our expectations,” Mensia-Joseph told the board.

In its current contract with the school system, contractor SSC is required to meet a cleanliness standard of “ordinary tidiness” – otherwise known as level 2 – as defined by the Association of Physical Plant Administrators. School officials say that level is not currently being met.

In her presentation, Mensia-Joseph brought up the idea of a “balanced” APPA 2 level, which would be cleaner than the current level, but lower than the school system’s “ideal” level of cleanliness. To achieve the system’s “ideal” level would require higher staffing, making it costlier.

She then explained two custodial options recommended by staff: either return to having all custodial services handled in-house, or rehire day custodians while outsourcing heavy-duty cleaning to multiple vendors.

Under the first option, Mensia-Joseph said returning custodial services to pre-outsourcing levels would likely cost $22 million annually, with cleanliness levels remaining as they are for the next 18 months. In two years, staffing could be achieved that would reach the “balanced” level of cleanliness, costing $27 million annually.

With the other option, 150 day custodians – or day porters – would be hired, and at least three new custodial contractors would handle heavy-duty or production cleaning. This option would cost $19 million annually for a “balanced” level of cleanliness, and would attain an “ideal” level over two years, to the tune of $23 million.

School construction

Mensia-Joseph and Christina Berta, the school system’s chief financial officer, gave an update on the remaining projects approved by a $304 million bond referendum in 2013. Those five projects are the Krause Road Administration Building, Harrowgate Elementary, Reams Elementary, Crestwood Elementary and Ettrick Elementary.

Instead of renovating the four schools, the School Board is considering whether it makes more sense to replace the four schools, as it decided to do with three other schools on the referendum. Mensia-Joseph explained that while a renovation might give a building an additional 25 years of use, a new building would yield 60.

Looked at from the viewpoint of cost per year of use, Mensia-Joseph said staff believed new buildings were the best use of taxpayer dollars.

All told, building these four schools from the ground up would cost an estimated $60 million more than renovating.


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