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Board of Ed Retains In-House Custodians at a Cost

The Board of Education must now come up with $450,000 in cuts to replace the money that outsourcing custodial workers would have brought in to the district.

An outpouring of public support for the district’s custodians at Thursday’s meeting likely spared them their jobs – at least for the time being.

Following more than an hour of pleas from two dozen students, teachers and residents, the board voted to freeze expansion of the and to retain the 13 in-house custodians whose jobs were on the chopping block.

While the board’s decision was met with a standing ovation Thursday night, it may end up having repercussions that are far from popular.

The district’s depends on the $450,000 infusion that custodial outsourcing would have provided. With that no longer forthcoming, the nearly half-million dollar shortfall must be made up elsewhere.

“A big ticket item has to get chopped or several small ticket items have to get chopped,” said John Mancinelli, the only board member who ultimately voted to outsource the custodians. “But something has to be resolved because the budget’s been approved. You can’t just add a big chunk of money or remove a big chunk of money.” 

After the meeting, board members met with the administration in closed session to gauge what the district might be able to cut.

“We asked the superintendent to give us a whole bunch of options,” Mancinelli said. “If you don’t make the adjustment in the budget this year, what has to get cut?”

Board president Michael Rosenberg said the cuts could be made anywhere, depending on the superintendent’s recommendation. Even the custodial staff still isn’t in the clear.

“The budget was made with these positions being cut,” Rosenberg said of the custodians originally slated for layoffs. “If the administration comes back and gives us reasons why we should revisit the custodial issue, we’re going to do that.”

A majority of the board had come to Thursday’s meeting prepared to lay off 13 custodial staff between both middle schools and the . Those let go were to be replaced with custodians supplied by Aramark Management Services at a cost of $715,935 for the 2012-2013 school year. Another $13,400 was earmarked for Edvocate School Support Services, a company the district hired last year to monitor Aramark’s work.

After hearing from the public, however, a majority of the board opposed resolutions to lay off custodians, expand the scope of Aramark’s contract with the district and hire Edvocate to monitor Aramark.

"I think they were caught off guard," said Mancinelli, referring to several board members who appeared genuinely torn on their votes after listening to pleas from the public. "I think they forgot why the whole thing was on the agenda to begin with."

Only Mancinelli ultimately voted for all three resolutions. Rosenberg and Susan Gioia abstained on the resolutions and all four other board members present voted against them. Board members Eugene Banta and Ron Barbarulo were absent at Thursay’s meeting.

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Tommy P April 23, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Help me understand, 24 of 32,000 people constitutes "an outpouring of public support" and the majority of that TINY minority are not going to be using the school system in two months. So if we get 50 angry tax payers, you know the people who pay year after year, we can cut the budget and eliminate this WASTE?
Stuart Pace April 23, 2012 at 02:24 PM
This is where the town and the BOE need to get together, if they haven't already, to work out the custodial duties in a shared service.
Samuel April 23, 2012 at 02:44 PM
MC61249.It is not true.I'm telling you why because any of the Custodians are now paying Hefty for there Insurance as per law.They negotiate there contracts fair square with the Board.If salaries are so high like everybody mentions.It is not theire fault.We all have to remember when the Economy was great nobody ever complaint and the Board grant seizeable increments to everyone.Inclueding Administrators.
Tommy P April 23, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Help us understand how sharing over priced services save money. The best I can see is bundling the needs to make it more attractive to an outside company. We should also waive some of the requirements for the existing custodians to bid on the business. If they are willing to start their own company and provide the services at the best price, I think it would be a good idea to lower the standards a bit to allow them to establish themselves.
Tommy P April 23, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Just because wrongs were committed last year, it doesn't make them right this year.
Stuart Pace April 23, 2012 at 02:59 PM
I don't know that the custodians are over priced so I can't answer your question. Doesn't make sense that custodial duties aren't shared. Same as Building and Grounds at the BOE. It's all one town. Why are we paying two groups to clean the buildings and care for the properties?
Tommy P April 23, 2012 at 03:41 PM
In the article it mentions Aramark Management Service is $450,000 less expensive then government union staff currently employed by the BOE.
Stuart Pace April 23, 2012 at 03:45 PM
I would prefer to leave our custodians in the schools. Safety first for the kids.
Rose April 23, 2012 at 03:52 PM
If the public were notified ahead of time I am sure others would have attended. Small in number indeed, yes, even the legendary Thomas Paine had only six come to his funeral.
MC61249 April 23, 2012 at 09:09 PM
The safety of the kids is nonsense. Show me where an Aramark cleaner has done anything to a kid. Where is the 450k going to come from? Funny how this decision was made after the budget was approved so the taxpayers didn't have a say. Where was the absentee board members?
Tommy P April 23, 2012 at 11:15 PM
Don't think for a second that those who opposed this tax increase wouldn't have showed up too, and yes spending increases are still tax increases even if offset. Put it on the ballot and watch how soundly keeping these overpaid employees would be voted out. As for the more famous Thomas Paine, he was the first to call for American Revolution, an action supported by about 1 in 3 that changed the world forever. The fact he wasn't given a state funeral either here or in France is an injustice of history. But what does a funeral from several generations ago have to do with the $450k of our money the BOE is taking away from our children's future?
Stuart Pace April 24, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Safety of the kids is nonsense? Glad you aren't my mom.
Tommy P April 24, 2012 at 02:23 AM
This story highlights why Parental Choice is the answer, those parent who want higher paid janitors for their children should be free to choose that and pay for it. In the meantime, please get your hands out of my pocket. It's clear the private sector can do a better job for less, let's move on to talking about outsourcing kindergarten.
Chris Antonelli April 24, 2012 at 11:49 AM
Less? Maybe. Better job? Unseen. I guess you're not too familar with outsourcing.
Tommy P April 24, 2012 at 11:56 AM
I run an outsourcing company, your employer is one of my clients.
Chris Antonelli April 24, 2012 at 01:03 PM
That's odd.... I don't recall posting my employer on here.
Chris Antonelli April 24, 2012 at 01:04 PM
And unless you've been in negotiations for large contracts, you're not familiar with departmental outsourcing.
LENNY April 24, 2012 at 03:15 PM
zak is it true the plan is back on as of today 4/24/2012. that is the word on the street. good luck finding out information on that. thank you.
Mei Won Sum April 24, 2012 at 04:28 PM
i don't think anyone can possibly do a better job than who is there now. nobody knows the real effect of a different company unless that company had a chance. outsourcing is never a good option.
Mei Won Sum April 24, 2012 at 04:30 PM
less isn't always more. do your homework. both of you.
Tommy P April 24, 2012 at 04:41 PM
@Chris I worked for a certain British company that now runs IT for a certain Swiss company.... ;) I now run my own shop.
Chris Antonelli April 24, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Soooooo..... What's your point TP? As an IC, I do a lot of work for a lot of companies. I've worked for lots of Multi-Nationals.
Chris Antonelli April 24, 2012 at 05:01 PM
And I'm not one of your clients. I am an Indie. I don't have an employer.
Mei Won Sum April 24, 2012 at 05:04 PM
holy stalker!!
Tommy P April 24, 2012 at 05:19 PM
@Chris I stand corrected. You have the same name as someone I have come across in the past.
Tommy P April 24, 2012 at 05:20 PM
To answer your question, I have been in negotiations for large contracts, I am familiar with departmental outsourcing.
Chris Antonelli April 24, 2012 at 05:26 PM
In IT?
Rose April 25, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Heard that ARAMARK was in the High School measuring yesterday.
Damocles April 25, 2012 at 02:38 PM
@ Thomas Paine Do you really not see a way to balance this situation? Does reduction, in your opinion, always have to start at the bottom of a totem pole ? You remind me of a typical technocrat who is blind, deaf and numb to the world surrounding him. Everything in life translates into numbers for you since you, regardless of provenience, are unable to grasp a different point of view or put yourself in the shoes of someone with a different socio-economic backround. And that requires imagination , a quality that, for instance, all psychopaths lack. Empathy is another. Now, try to guess what percentage of american CEO's and other so called decision makers fit that profile. Study results have been published by 2 scientists from Berkley and MIT. If you're able to read between the lines conclusion should be very easy, with the finger of blame pointed in appropiate direction. Ergo, custodians, these hard working people ( granted - maybe not all of them ) are not overpaid and their salary levels should be a norm in a country like USA. I do understand though, that people with similar views would feel a sense of accomplishment if all those custodians were "rewarded" with minimum wage salaries.
Tommy P April 25, 2012 at 04:41 PM
@Damocles interesting choice for a screen name, welcome (back) to the patch :) As an American CEO, I compete to keep my employees, they are free to leave at anytime. I need to ensure that I compensate them well, or they will work for someone else. Conversely they work hard and stay current for our company. If they are over paid, there is no return for the investors. The private sector has built in mechanisms to find equilibrium. We are not forced to employ anyone, they are voluntarily employed by an employer who risks capital to run a business in hopes of making a profit. Government janitors are a bit different, they their employer (the taxpayer) is force to pay them under threat of force. Instead of competing for those jobs, there is a sense of entitlement. Governments often setup a bid process to ensure it pays a market rate. Cleaning a toilet, cutting the grass and the other services they perform can be done by the private sector and apparently for a lot less. Instead we have a system that elected officials provide increases year after year regardless of market forces. We have janitors who make $37,000 per person more than the private sector can deliver the same services. That OVER compensation is more then the median income in Fair Lawn per the most recent census.

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