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Board votes to privatize remaining custodial services

January 30, 2013 - Goodrich-The school board voted 6-1 on Monday night to terminate the employment of two custodians in a cost savings measure.

Trustee Tim Zirnhelt voted no.

Until Monday night the district had only two full-time custodians employed while contracting with Flint-based At Your Service for the remainder of the school buildings.

The decision is expected to save the district about $53,000 per year and will totally privatize custodial services for the four district school buildings.

"This is very distasteful," said Jeff Gardner, board vice-president. "But we have to put the kids first—our fund balance is at 10 percent right now and we cannot see that changing anytime soon. We are in the education business, that's why we are here. We can blame the state if we want."

Betty Butterworth, president of Goodrich Custodians, Maintenance, Para-Pros and Transportation (CMPT), said the custodians had worked for the district for about 24 years and about 16 years respectively.

"When they balance the budget, my department is the first they take from," said Buttersworth. "Several years ago when Dr. Green was superintendent, we only had Reid and the high school with about six custodians. Then when the other middle school and Oaktree were added, Green brought in a private custodial department. He wanted the custodians to leave through attrition—the other boards had honored the prior board's decision. But this year they did not. I'm very disappointed. It's getting bad—they are not going to balance the budget on the backs of these two custodians."

"I don't like doing this either," said Linda Jackson. "Privatizing is distasteful, but our lack of funding is pushing us. We devalue people with this lay-off. We are taking away benefits and salary from a family."

The cut to the custodians is not the first.

In May 2011 the Goodrich School Board voted 6-0 to OK a labor contract with the group that included a 5.5 percent reduction in compensation for the employees, saving the district about $120,000. About 61 employees were impacted by the concession.

In May 2012 the board did not vote on privatizing of school bus drivers and custodial services as anticipated. The plans were first discussed on May 7, 2012 when the school board members and administration gathered for a special meeting to discuss privatizing for the custodial services and the transportation department.

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