MANATEE -- Custodial services will be privatized at four schools in a pilot program that promises to save the district more than $160,000, the Manatee School Board decided Monday.
Robert Gause, Barbara Harvey and Harry Kinnan voted in favor of the decision to put American Facility Services of Plantation in charge of custodial services at Braden River, Miller and Prine elementary schools and Haile Middle School. Julie Aranibar and Karen Carpenter voted against the move.
District administrators emphasized that no existing school custodians would lose their jobs as a result of the privatization. Rather, custodians at the four schools would be moved to other open positions.
Bruce Mohr, who leads the unions that represents custodial workers, had objected to the proposal, saying it was unlikely to save the district money because a private firm was likely to charge for some of the custodial duties considered “a la carte,” such as moving furniture.
“A la carte is a blank check,” Mohr told the board. “The (contract) specs do not specifically state that moving furniture to strip and wax the floors is covered. If it’s not specifically in the contract, I think they have a chance to rebut that and charge additional money.
But Schools Superintendent Tim McGonegal said that whatever additional costs might arise from a la carte charges would likely to covered by even greater savings from not having to provide substitute custodians. He estimated that savings to be $26,000.
Aranibar and Carpenter did not offer reasons for voting against the pilot program. But Gause said he felt the district had no choice but to try the pilot program.
“From a business standpoint, we’re looking for ways to save money,” he said. “For me, we have to be willing to give this a try.”
In other business, the school board:
n Voted to reject a proposal for real estate broker services because the district did not receive adequate response from the Realtor associations it contacted.
n Approved purchasing “stop-loss insurance” for $495,343 from SunLife Financial. The stop-loss insurance reimburses the school district for insurance claims that exceed deductibles.
Christine Hawes, Herald education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081.