Source: Sherman Publications

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Keiser's Role: Cut at the top

by Trevor Keiser

June 20, 2012

As I sat at the June 13 Lake Orion School Board Meeting I began to hear sniffles throughout the crowd as the fate of the AFSCME Union Custodians became clearer with each board member's comments. It seemed to all there was no other choice, but to privatize.

My heart broke as I stepped into the hallway after the decision had been made and watched a young boy around age eight, sob his eyes out in his mother's arms, knowing she may not have a job come fall.

I'm not mad at the school board for its decision, though I will say I was surprised the vote was unanimous. I'm mad at the system. I hate that "the low man on the totum pole is the first to go."

According to the presentation given by Superintendent Marion Ginopolis and Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance John Fitzgerald, Executive Administrators took a three percent reduction in 2010-2011. I'm sorry but a three percent reduction is a slap on the wrist when you're making anywhere between $100,000 to over $200,000 a year.

The current custodial staff makes an average of $34,000 to $42,000 a year. The average administrator makes that in three or four months.

Yes, the board and school administration has tried to lessen the blow by paying out sick leave and offering a higher rate to current staff hired by the private vendor, but even at that "higher rate" the current staff would be making $15,000 to $20,000 less a year. That's a lot especially if you're the only income of your household.

Maybe this issue hits me closer to home because I understand what it is to be a "low man on the totum pole." While I heard praise from both administrators and board members on how hard the current staff worked and how loved they were by staff and students at the end of the day the love came with a price tag.

So there may have not been "another choice" for the board members who voted to make the decision. I do believe there could have been another choice by administrators.