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FSSD may outsource 30 janitorial jobs

The Franklin Special School District Board of Education could vote as soon as Monday whether to outsource its janitorial services to a third party as a cost-saving measure to help balance its 2013-14 budget. Director of Schools Dr. David Snowden said eliminating the jobs of 30 full-time janitors could save city taxpayers $667,000 annually.

The FSSD Board of Education may vote on a proposed budget of around $44.5 million for the 2013-14 school year at its regular meeting on Monday, but the district remains about a million short.

“These are tough decisions that are difficult to make,” Snowden said.

Critics say the savings of outsourcing the janitorial services to trim that shortfall by more than half would be gained on the backs of some of the lowest paid full-time employees in the district.

“They are family to each school in FSSD, not just custodians,” said Kim Stinson, a parent to a child currently attending an FFSD school and formerly a teacher within the system for nine years. “There are other options than outsourcing the custodial staff. Wages, hours, benefits and the role of a custodian would be compromised by using an outside company.”

In a document titled “Current Custodial Operation Issue” dated May 29, 2013, the FSSD cited four areas of concern if it were to continue to manage janitorial services internally:

“1: Difficult for us to find/hire employees – even with competitive wages and benefits

2: Nearly impossible to find/hire substitute custodians

3: With growing educational responsibilities for administrators, the day-to-day management of custodial staff/operations is becoming increasingly difficult

4: With increased building usage, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep them clean with current resources.”

If the board approves the measure, responsibility for FSSD’s janitorial services would shift to GCA Education Services, a Tennessee-based company.  According to information provided by the company, GCA employs more than 35,000 and generates annual revenue in excess of $800 million. It has more than 3,500 employees in Tennessee, nearly half of whom work in Middle Tennessee. According to GCA, it works with several school systems in the region, including Williamson County Schools.

As a byproduct of approving the outsourcing measure, 30 full-time jobs would fall from FSSD’s ledger. According to documents provided by FSSD, projected costs for FSSD to fund those positions for 2013-14 fiscal year would be nearly $1.6 million. The cost for FSSD to outsource the work would be $928,632 – about half of what it would cost to retain the jobs internally.

FSSD’s current full-time custodial staff has a combined experience of 271 years, meaning the average employee has served more than nine years at FSSD. The longest-tenured custodian has been with FSSD for 30 years, according to information provided by FSSD. According to the proposal GCA submitted, each of these individuals would be offered a job, provided they “are recommended [by FSSD] and pass the background checks.” Those who make the cut would “be offered a wage at the higher end of the [pay] range,” which is considerably lower than the pay range offered by FSSD.

According to the FSSD, the pay range for its custodial staff is $12.03 to $17.75 per hour. The salary range GCA will offer to current FSSD custodial employees would be between $7.75 and $14, according to information provided by FSSD on GCA’s letterhead.

“[Former FSSD employees] will be offered a wage at the higher end of the range,” according to the document.

A call to GCA was not immediately returned to determine whether it would offer the former FSSD employees something comparable to the FSSD’s benefits package, which includes state retirement benefits, and FSSD-funded life insurance, medical insurance, dental insurance, disability insurance and vision insurance.

“All of our employees are valuable,” Snowden said. “Our janitorial staff builds relationships with colleagues, teachers and students just as the rest of our staff members. It’s nothing negative against our employees.”

Stinson said petitions are circulating amongst teachers and staff at several of FSSD’s eight schools to oppose the outsourcing proposal. The petition at Liberty Elementary School had “at least 50 signatures” as of Wednesday, she said.

The Franklin Special School District will convene its monthly meeting July 15 at 6:30 p.m. at Moore Elementary School located at 1061 Lewisburg Pike.

Posted on: 7/11/2013


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