Custodians unlikely to return if schools privatize work

Custodians unlikely to return if schools privatize work

SCITUATE – Custodial workers say they will most likely not stay on staff if the Scituate School Committee decides to privatize custodial services, said Scituate Custodians Union President Joshua Homerston, pictured, after two of three bids from private companies came in below current costs on Monday.

Three private companies returned bids from last week’s request for proposals for the privatization of school custodial services, two of which are $200,000 less than what the school’s custodians are paid combined, according to Homerston.

Homerston said two bids came under the approximate $743,000 in salary for the 20 custodians and one was over current costs.

The three bids were GoTo Services at $523,745, Performance Environmental Services at $579,000 and ABM at $725,142 for the first year of service.

Supt. Carol Blanchette estimated the cost to employ custodians, including health insurance and pension in the 2020-2021 school year, at $913,673. Actual costs for the 2018-2019 school year, including benefits, was $888,656, and $899,380 was budgeted for the 2019-2020 school year.

But, Homerston said the request for proposals doesn’t cover the custodians’ scope of work, which goes far beyond merely cleaning the schools.

He brought up several concerns during a Feb. 4 school board meeting regarding the request seeking private bids for custodial services. For example, the proposal asks for a private company to use the district’s custodial equipment, which he said is not in good condition.

“They’re going to want all-new equipment or at least a lot of it replaced,” he said, adding that will add to the costs of privatization.

Homerston added that the district does not have several positions in place that the request called for, including a custodial manager or night custodian, which will also add to the cost.

“They don’t even have our full job description,” Homerston said.

He said it comes down to what is in the contract if the committee decides to move forward, adding that he is doubtful that the custodial staff will stay if the committee decides to privatize. He anticipates the move will mean a significant paycut, which means doing more work for less money.

“It’s not apples to apples. It’s an orange to a grapefruit,” Homerston said, referring to School Committee member Coleen Pendergast’s comments at the Feb. 4 meeting.

The committee voted 5-0 to approve the administrative action of going out to bid for private custodial services.

Pendergast said the committee will look at the results for cost savings. She said if there are minimal savings involved, “it’s dead.”

The union and supporters have attended several School Committee meetings since Nov. 1, when the committee notified custodians of its intent to explore privatized services. The committee said it needed to do its due diligence to explore alternative options to fill a budget gap caused by a cut in state funding and level funding.

On Feb. 4, union Vice President Nick Carnevale presented the committee with a petition of more than 400 signatures from people who are against privatizing.

“The town doesn’t want this,” he said.

He suggested looking at other possible places to save money to cut the budget deficit, pointing to teacher salary increases and marketing increases as unfair spending. Carnevale said the custodians were hoping during contract negotiations that they would also see an investment.

“I haven’t really seen you guys attempt to save money besides attempting to privatize us,” he said.


Just remember you get what you pay for!!

Privatization protects the city's future. Let the employee's negotiate terms with their employer. Whatever happens our grandchildren won't have to pay for services delivered in 2020.