Board of Ed Approves Custodial Outsourcing

The board voted to privatize eight night custodial positions at the high school, resulting in the loss of jobs for six district custodians.

The would not be persuaded Thursday by a second round of public pleas to retain the entirety of its in-house custodial force. Board members sat and listened for over an hour as students, teachers and residents implored them not to privatize eight custodial positions, but when the resolution came up for a vote, they displayed none of .

Seven of the nine board members voted to terminate eight night custodian positions at the  -- resulting in six layoffs -- and to expand the scope of its relationship with Aramark Management Services to take their places. Ron Barbarulo and Mary Wallace cast the dissenting votes.

Other than an impromptu speech in defense of custodial privatization delivered by Superintendent Bruce Watson, the board and administration kept mostly silent throughout the meeting, listening to the public's appeals.

The majority of the public's overtures on behalf of the custodians concerned the perceived need to preserve the school district's "family," and to assure the safety of students.

"Everybody is responsible for how our children come out," one resident said. "To just cast aside the custodians because it's efficient is wrong."

Watson said he felt expanding privatization of the custodial force was necessary for the district to continue providing the academic and extracurricular offerings its students and parents have come to expect.

"This is not about destroying a family," he said. "This is about trying to put a budget together with the limited amount of resources that are handed to us and to maintain the quality of education."

Watson said he felt for the custodians who would be losing their jobs, but that his priority was educating the community's children.

"This is a tough decision, I’ve lost a lot of sleep over this myself," he said. “I’m affecting human beings, I know that. But my job is children. Teachers are second, administrators are third, and I’ve got to focus the best I can on children.”

Saranne Krimsky, a special education teacher in the district, expressed concern that the board's decision to outsource custodians this year represented only the beginning of a large scale privatization of the district's workers.

“My fear is that this is an introduction of a little bit at a time," she said, citing a comment board member Elyss Frenkel made to the Community News about outsourcing in steps. "Next time it’s going to be a few more and then a few more and then a few more, before it’s completely outsourced."

Watson affirmed that the board's piecemeal custodial outsourcing was a pilot program.

“And can it continue?," he said. "Sure it can, if things don’t get better. If I have a governor that keeps telling me I get less money and you can tell me that salaries continue to go up, where else do I go to make a recommendation?”


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Antonio Artola, the Fair Lawn Custodians Association president, said after the meeting that he didn't believe the board's decision was economically motivated and asserted that Watson had been seeking to privatize the custodians for years.

“It was never an issue of money," he said. "It was just about making a point. 'I have the power and I’m going to tell you I can do what I need to do.'”  

Paul Daniele, the custodians' New Jersey Education Association representative, said the district should have scheduled a sit down with the custodians since last month's meeting to work out a solution that would have allowed them to keep their jobs.

“To me this isn’t an economic issue because no one, no one here picked up the phone to call me or to call the field rep to come in here and say, ‘Hey let’s sit down together as a team...to talk about any financial things," he said. 

In his opinion, outsourcing of the entire custodial staff is inevitable.

“Next year we’re going to be back in the same place and we’re going to redo this again," Daniele said. "And it’ll be, ‘We got to pay for something else and now it’s six more people. We like what you did, but we need to save the money.'”

The board's decision to privatize eight custodial positions rather than the initially proposed 13 will mean the district must also refrain from hiring four of the 11 proposed teacher and staff positions included in this year's budget, as well as postpone part of the bleacher repair at Sasso Field.

Watson said positions the district will no longer be able to hire include a speech teacher, a remedial kindergarten teacher, a social worker and an ESL teacher.

The elimination of the remedial kindergarten teacher position will force the postponement of the district's planned , which had been intended to bridge the gap for the growing number of kindergarten students who enter school academically behind their peers.

The termination of the six custodians who were laid off goes into effect on June 30.


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FLResident98 May 18, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Custodial staff are as important as teachers when it comes to creating an environment where students feel they are truly part of a community. My personal opinion is that this focus on cutting $$ will come back to bite us in the rear. Having worked for corporations that outsourced as much as possible this is the first step down that slope. The ones at the top retain their nice benefits and salaries while the ones at the bottom get whittled away until there is only an inferior product and low morale at what used to be a great place to work. The worst part about this is the inferior product will be our children who will then be expected to take their places in a world they are ill equipped to handle. A set up for failure just so we can save a few short term $$.
The Reagan-ator May 18, 2012 at 03:17 PM
"This is not about destroying a family," Watson said "This is about trying to put a budget together with the limited amount of resources that are handed to us and to maintain the quality of education." hey Watson here's an idea - why not cut 10% of your inflatted salary along with all the other over paid adminastrative salaries, then we would be able to keep our current janitors. "This is not about destroying a family,"- well you just put 6 families in an extremely tough situation by laying off these 6 janitors. if you cut your salary by 10% what would happen to you- would you have to buy the special edition mercedes instead of the limited edition mercedes? you laying off these janitors is setting a disgusting example of greed for our kids. there are plenty of six figure salaried emloyees who would still be able to live comfortably if you reduced thier salary 10%. that would have shown a sense community and working together during tough times. you should be ashamed of yourself
Just Facts May 18, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Sad..... 86 million dollar budget and they cut 6 Janitors ? - that should lower the budget to 80 million?? no? Get rid of all of the indians and soon we will have only chiefs... Feel bad for these men who dedicated themselves to Fair Lawn Schools. Hope they find better jobs
Bruce Knuckle May 19, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Hard to stomach as we replace a not so critical assistant super with a much higher salary. The custodians aren't the ones killing us. Go to any school, I venture to say they are the only ones really working every day.
Halsey Taylor May 19, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Tommy P you are a Pompous Ass!
violet May 19, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Tommy P., the custodial stuff wants nothing more then to sit down and talk about what they can do to save money and to keep their jobs at the same time. Read the whole thing, it clearly says that they want to sit down, and talk. The problem is that no one wnats to sit down with them and talk. This is an on going thing for a few years now. They offered to do whatever it takes to save their jobs, pay cuts etc. Their health insurance was just changed, they will contribue a lot more etc., they are clearly trying to make changes, to save money, to take cuts, but BOE is not having any of it. They want to get rid of them. Mr. Watson is telling us that he had sleepless nights over it, maybe he should talk to them first and try to come up with an alternate solution. It's like counting to three, without two...
Helene Plotkin May 19, 2012 at 07:11 PM
When my son graduated Fair Lawn High last year. i remember getting lost in the school numerous times. There was always a custodian to show me the correct way to get to where I wanted to go. These men were always helpful. I know my son counted on the custodians, too. They were always cheerful and willing to go out of their way to help a lost parent Helene Plotkin.
violet May 19, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Could not agree more with you! I am a long time FL resident. Living here since 1992, having my daughter graduate from FLHS last year, getting into a good college etc. It's a whole community that is behind this, not only teachers, but safe environment all around! Custodians are only custodians by name, but not job description. They go above and beyond! This is a Board of Education, and not corporate America, and we cannot let OUR PEOPLE be treated like that! Let go to save money....it's not about money, everyone knows that. If it would be about money, we would not be building a new wing to the HS in those hard times, we would not be buying shelves for something like 90,000 for the library, when we don't even have a FT librarians...and we would not be changing chairs for the 2nd time, because the color doesn't match the decor....The BOE was wasting money for years for such unnecessary things, and not thinking about saving for a rainy day, not thinking about the kids...Now they think about the kids? I would love to see how Mr. Watson was voting for his own pay increase over the years...I think it's about time the governor put a stop to this nonsense. I am not for Christie at all, but someone had to handle this...It was like giving money to CEOs of failing banks...
violet May 19, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Thank you for that! I want to see how many "amdinistrators" are going to be laid off...Not to mention that secretaries are making about 90,000 working for the BOE! The BOE should release some facts, for example a complete list of how much ALL employees are making, every single one of them. I know already that they are getting rid of people who make the least money...
violet May 19, 2012 at 07:17 PM
violet May 19, 2012 at 07:17 PM
I want to see how many "amdinistrators" are going to be laid off...Not to mention that secretaries are making about 90,000 working for the BOE! The BOE should release some facts, for example a complete list of how much ALL employees are making, every single one of them. I know already that they are getting rid of people who make the least money...
violet May 19, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Thank you! All true!
Helene Plotkin May 19, 2012 at 07:24 PM
I want to edit the comment, I just posted. I wanted to say, My son graduated Fair Lawn High last year. I remember getting lost in the school numerous time. There was always a custodian to show me the correct way to get to where I wanted to go. These men were always cheerful and willing to go out of there way to help a lost parent, My son counted on the custodians, too.. Helene Plotkin
me May 20, 2012 at 01:13 AM
Even if watson had 150 million budget he would say something foolish and still cut the custodians. Its not about the money he HATES the custodians. My kid once lost his retainer and the custodian climbed in the dumpster and pulled out all the garbage bags and went through all of them and found the retainer.Would the private company do that .No way. Watson said its not about destroying families.He should have said it is about destroying families and destroying our schools. You should be ashamed of yourself.
Tony Dadika May 20, 2012 at 01:17 AM
Shame on you BOE this isn't about $$$ it is about people. People with families, people who sweated to work for the school and the children. It is so easy to do the right thing,why couldn't you just have done it? Please spare us all the lame excuses, there are no excuses. I believe in karma ,yours will come. Shame,shame,shame.
John C May 20, 2012 at 01:34 AM
I agree didn't the gov. say a super could only make $225,000. Oh yes that was if you were out of contract, Which our board of ed. would never let happen. Well I guess the way around paying you would be to just fire you and hire an outside source.
John C May 20, 2012 at 01:43 AM
Can't keep firing the people who work or you might have to do some work Bruce.
Deleted because of harassment May 20, 2012 at 04:11 AM
While laying off residents of the town and talking about "family", a man who makes more than the salaries of all six he just fired shows no shame at all. He has neither any loyalty to his own employees, nor to the students and parents who populate the schools. When the district is managed to the betterment of some corporation rather than the schools, I am sure it represents the worst aspects of corporatization of education - based on nothing but cost rather than providing the highest level of educational experiences for students. Actual family members who have lived in the community and worked in it are treated as useless waste to be jettisoned at the earliest chance while sub-adminstrators are all over the place, filling up those 100K offices mandated by the state, with the 90K political-appointee sub-assistants. It's easy to dump on the lowest level employees and send their jobs to some other politically appointed corporation, and if you think this is just a last-ditch effort instead of a first step in a plan, you're not passing the critical thinking test, either.
me May 20, 2012 at 11:52 AM
I was just wondering how much kickback he is getting from the private company, does he have shares in the company.
Hot Head May 20, 2012 at 12:57 PM
If outsourcing immanent; the most important thing is the "health" safety of the kids; which I don't see mentioned in any comment here. I would think that a resident employee would possibly take more pride in the community they are a part of than an outside agency. At the same time there are "critical" areas such as food service, bathrooms, nurses office etc. that cannot be cleaned by conventinal methods. Hot Head Magic Steam is an occasional detail cleaning service that disinfects and sanitizes in the process. Also since our process is high pressure, high heat dry vapor steam; it is 100% green as well as 100% effective. The pressure and heat forces bacteria from where they hibernate and kills it; which is then removed by microfiber. FYI...Please remember that Bleach is poison. Mixed w/organic material it produces Chloroform; mixed with dish soap it produces Mustard Gas and mixed with Amonia (contained in Urine) it produces toxic gasses that can exacerbate respiratory problems and at times cause serious or even lethal consequences. If we can be of assistance in your needs; regardless of the janitorial outcome; please contact us at: michael@hotheadmagicsteam.com or 917 273-3255. Let's just keep the kids healthy. Hot Head
Tommy P May 20, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Violet, assuming your are correct that they are willing to match the cost to the BoE, all in, inclusive of FICA and benefits, I would be their strongest supporter. The minutes on the meetings are behind (in violation of NJ law), but the reporting in the press has not suggested that is what they were willing to do.
Tommy P May 20, 2012 at 08:25 PM
How reputable can a company be that tries to steal advertisement?
Hot Head May 20, 2012 at 10:55 PM
Tommy, If you have nothing intelligent to contribute, you should turn off your computer and say and nothing. Nobody is interested in your inane comments, except maybe yourself. As I said in your prior comment; social media is just that. I forum to communnicate information. Guess you didn't know that. You must be a person with nothing better to do than troll the web looking to cause issues rather than commenting on ways to solve them. Kindly Mind "Your own Business" and not that of others. Especially those looking to improve quality of life for all of us. We will all be better off without your meaningless contribution.
Hot Head May 20, 2012 at 11:32 PM
Here is yet another example of Tommy causing trouble and contradicting himself. Tommy is an individual w/too much time on his hands. He should sit on them; or at the very least be consistant. This is a disturbed individual. Read below: Regarding Janitors in Fair Lawn. Comment #1 From Tommy, If the remaining janitors wants to take the issue of losing their jobs at contract renewal time off the table, they can take a big positive step right now, ask for a salary adjustment to market rate. Good work on the part of the BoE! Comment #2 from Tommy Hold on, cleaning toilets and teaching kids is not the same. Just about anyone can scrub a toilet, being a teacher requires an education. The Board of Education is completely out of control. The "custodians" are bunch of bullies who should be let go the moment their contract ends. They are a textbook example of waste. Make up your mind Tommy; you want their pay cut or do you want them fired. According to you; these fine dedicated individuals are useless. You really are a piece of work......Maybe you should scrub the toilets; since anyone can do it. .
Tommy P May 21, 2012 at 02:49 AM
I understand your reaction, no one likes to be called out for spamming. Let me quote from Patch's Terms of Service. A link is found on every page: "Use of the Service You may use this Service solely for personal and non-commercial purposes. That is to say: You can’t use the Service to make a living unless you enter into a separate agreement with us that says you can.". Do you have a separate agreement? As for your examples, I am consistent here. I am advocating for the tax payers of Fair Lawn. There are many employees who the taxpayers over compensate. I am against over paying for services, particularly when the money is taken under threat of force, aren't you? Our children's education is not impacted by how janitorial services are paid. If these men are willing to work at market rate, why change them? The reality is they are demanding a much higher rate, and as far as I know never offered to match the rate, even now they are scheduled to join the unemployment lines. As for scrubbing toilets, the BoE had a bidding process, deadlines, my company did not bid, but the winner was $450,000 cheaper than the previous year.
violet May 21, 2012 at 04:04 AM
The custodians were sitting down with the BOE reps so many times trying to come up with a compromise, agreeing to all sorts of cuts, but all those meetings ended with no results, as the BOE did not want to agree to anything...and as it got closer to the lay-off, they refuse to even sit down with them anymore...If there would be some kind of a referendum now, I know that the custodians would agree to many more cuts to save their jobs. That is all they wanted to do from the beginning.
Hot Head May 21, 2012 at 11:50 AM
First of all; If you don't appreciate a service that can help people you should keep your comments to yourself....... Especially when you don't even know the definition of "spamming" Second is that you flipped on your opinion. First was take a pay cut and then you turned to "fire them all" because they are a waste. Guess you don't have kids; but where I live the janitors do a pretty good job in all aspects and are appreciated. Much more so than outsourced strangers would be. Third is....Oh yes....."You did not bid on the contract". Well that explains much; including insulting your employees as I'm sure you consider yourself much too good to do such work. Fourth is that if you are in the business of janitorial services; who is the cat calling the kettle black? You are a hypocrite!
Tommy P May 21, 2012 at 01:15 PM
At least you live up to your screen name. Since many people receive the comments as mail, it would meet the classical definition of spam. However, let me be more accurate, you are engaging in Forum Spam see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forum_spam I have been known to change my opinion when facts change. Some call it reason, some call it Common Sense. My understanding is they were offered a chance to take the cut, the countered much higher then the offer, the board financially did the right thing. Whether or not I have kids is irrelevant. There are policies that were a part of the bid which need to be followed including background checks. Also keep in mind in sourcing does not ensure you don't get a bad character. Look at what happened in Toms River. http://tomsriver.patch.com/articles/elementary-school-custodian-charged-with-child-porn As for my employees, they are highly educated, have 8 ivy league degrees between them, the market place rewards them for those efforts and their work experience. Just because most everyone can scrub a toilet, doesn't mean everyone should do it for a living. My company specializes in ethical hacking and information security. And we have NEVER stolen advertisement space. Of course you only have issue with me because I pointed out your are a thief. You should delete your comments with the offending ads and issue an apology.
Tommy P May 21, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Yet another new screen name, this time taking on the name of a company that made water fountains labeled "Whites Only" Priceless.
Hot Head May 21, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Finally one comment with which I can agree Tommy. My apologies to anyone disturbed by my information where they did not intend to find it.....To those of you that were not.....Be "green" & healthy! Have a nice day!


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