MANATEE -- Supt. Tim McGonegal will meet with a representative of school custodial workers to re-examine whether outsourcing custodial services for four Manatee County schools is in the best interests of the district.
McGonegal and his staff believe the district can save almost $168,000 annually by hiring a private firm to handle custodial services at Haile Middle School and Miller, Prine and Braden River elementary schools. But Bruce Mohr, president of the union representing custodial workers, said at Monday’s school board meeting the outsourcing may end up costing the district more and could diminish the level of service students and staff are receiving.
Mohr’s comments triggered two school board members, Karen Carpenter and Julie Aranibar, to vote against approving the entire “consent agenda” at Monday’s board meeting, while members Harry Kinnan and Bob Gause voted in support of the set of supposedly non-controversial items. With Barbara Harvey absent, the tie vote meant the consent agenda failed.
Board members later approved the consent agenda after voting to sever the custodial outsourcing items. They’ll revisit the outsourcing proposal in January, after McGonegal and Mohr have met and further examined the district’s anticipated cost savings and Mohr’s concerns.
Among Mohr’s greatest issues was whether “a la carte services” -- meaning tasks above and beyond cleaning -- would trigger additional charges from the private firm that would take over the custodial services. Mohr also told the board that custodians have a close relationship with the schools they serve and can serve them more efficiently because of their familiarity with not only the facilities, but the staff and students.
McGonegal said one of Mohr’s most relevant points was the “trepidation” that outsourcing would cause. He emphasized that custodial outsourcing at the five schools was a pilot project and part of a long, slow transition.
Dave Miner, a self-proclaimed financial “watchdog” of the school district, said he was concerned with the impact of outsourcing. “It sounds on the surface like they’re trying to do it on the cheap,” Miner said. “At first view, it looks like they’re outsourcing at the expense of the children and other members of the staff.”
In other business, the school board voted to approve a resolution authorizing school board members’ district boundaries to align with those of county commissioners, and to delay consideration of a move to hire a real estate firm to list its properties for sale.
Christine Hawes, Herald education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081.