2017-12-13 / Front Page

School Board gives Lane new contract, axes custodial provider

By Rich Griset

At its last business meeting of the year Tuesday night, the School Board voted to give Superintendent James Lane a new contract and declined to renew its contract with its custodial services provider.

Custodial services change

The School Board voted to not renew its contract with SSC Service Solutions, which has handled custodial services for the school system since July 1, 2015.

While the decision to outsource custodial work has saved the school system money, it hasn’t delivered the level of cleanliness the School Board had hoped for. Instead, the School Board voted last night to hire day porters for minor cleaning services during school hours and outsource more heavy-duty production cleaning, which will take place while school is not in session.

The approved plan looks to solicit at least three new contractors to provide after-hours cleaning. The new plan is expected to cost the school system $19 million in its first year, which is about $7 million more than it currently pays under its contract with SSC. That figure could increase to $23 million annually as staff is added to produce an “ideal” level of cleaning.

Superintendent’s contract

Less than two years into Superintendent James Lane’s four-year contract, the School Board voted to give him a new contract Tuesday night, the details of which were made available to the public the following day.

“We believe still that we have found a superintendent who would work collaboratively with the board to take our school division to new heights,” said Javaid Siddiqi, School Board chairman and Midlothian District representative, reading from a statement after the vote.

Lane’s previous contract was for $221,000 a year, including his base salary, car allowance and deferred compensation. The new contract begins Jan. 1, 2018, and ends June 30, 2021, and establishes a new salary of $233,529. According to a statement from the school system issued on Wednesday afternoon, this “is 5 percent less than the salary earned by the Chesterfield County administrator. Unlike the original contract, there is no car allowance or deferred compensation with the new contract.”

Giving Lane a new contract without providing information to the public beforehand drew the ire of county resident Brenda Stewart, who attended Tuesday’s meeting.

“Refusing to reveal the documents to reappoint the superintendent … is absolutely a slap in the face of taxpayers,” said Stewart during the public comment period before the vote. “Despite our appeals to you to release the documents so we would know what was being done under that heading tonight, you have refused.”

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