Source: Sherman Publications

Brandon eyes custodian privatization again

by Susan Bromley

March 14, 2012

Brandon Twp.- The school board is once again considering the privatization of custodial services.

During the March 6 finance committee meeting, Superintendent Lorrie McMahon said school board members agreed to put out a request for proposals, seeking bids from private companies offering custodial services to the district.

“We are looking into the privatization of custodians,” said Superintendent Lorrie McMahon. “To make major decisions we have to have all our options in front of us.”

McMahon said privatization of custodial services could save the district money, or the district could see increased services for the same amount of money the district currently spends on employing their own custodians.

In August 2010, the school board approved a 3-year contract with Teamsters Local #214, avoiding privatization of custodians and maintenance personnel. The union, which represents 22 employees, made numerous concessions, including reductions in health care, hours, and wages. Four employees who retired that year were also not replaced. The changes saved the district $526,373 and avoided the outsourcing of jobs.

However, McMahon notes that while jobs were saved, the reductions in hours for custodians and decision to not replace retiring employees have affected the district.

“We have cut way back on custodial services, time as well as pay, and it’s a problem getting all the work done,” she said. “With the state forcing us to contribute more to employees’ retirement funds, it makes each custodian much more expensive. (With privatization) it’s possible we could get more people for the same amount or less money and we wouldn’t have to contribute to their retirement, where a lot of expense comes in and which we have no control over.”

McMahon expects the board to have custodian proposals to review at the next finance committee meeting, set for 6:30 p.m., March 29, at the central district office, 1025 S. Ortonville Road. Privatization of transportation may also be a topic of discussion at that meeting.

“We need to do due diligence,” she said. “We have cut to bare bones. We’re having trouble in the district keeping up with the reporting and compliance we have to do and we also have class sizes at a maximum. They’re not terrible, but we don’t want them to get terrible. We want to keep reductions away from students.”