At Tuesday's Board of Education work session, there was discussion of the custodial contract with Southern Management. Southern Management was the company the BOE went with when privatizing custodial services. The contract is due to expire in June, so the Board has begun discussing options for the future.
Interim Superintendent Jason Kouns kicked off the discussion by reviewing the contract and options, outlining that 30 days notice needs to be given to Southern Management if the BOE decides to break contract. With that, there are three options; they could either stay with the current company as is, stay with the company with modifications to the current expectations, or look for an alternative for providing custodial services to the school system. Board member Jim Parmer inquired about the surveys from school personnel as he was concerned about staying with a company if the work was not up to the district's expectations.
"I think we need to look at, if nothing else, the survey. I don't have a problem with a company if everything is ok, if everybody is ok with it, but if people are dissatisfied with it we need to know that."
Kouns retorted with
"Just from verbal comments people are not happy with the cleanliness of our buildings. It would be my suggestion right away that if we do maintain our contact with Southern Management we have to renegotiate what our expectation is and make it very clear. The buildings are not as clean as they used to be."
This sparked a discussion of the current contract and the expectations outlined in it.
Kouns summed it up by saying,
"I can tell you from speaking with principals, from speaking with the teachers, that something has to change with the way our custodial services are being addressed either with the current company or in a different direction. That is the one absolute is that those services have to improve. Part of a solid education is putting children in a building that is clean and making sure that they are well cared for."
Kouns is going to have a follow up discussion with the principals and gather more specific thoughts from faculty and staff and will bring that information back to the Board. He also encouraged the board members to talk with the building principals and go to the buildings to perform spot checks. Kouns reiterated that this is something that needs to be looked at "sooner rather than later".
During Public Participation, Citizen John Williamson approached the podium to outline his concerns with regards to the handling of the Southern Management contract. He stated that this is something that has been discussed for two or three months and that he has, in the past, spoken to Interim Superintendent Kouns and Chairperson James Waters about discussing the concerns with Southern Management. Williamson inquired as to whether or not there has been a sit down with the company to discuss the concerns. Kouns stated that Director of Operations,Erick Hofstetter, is in direct contact with Southern Management on specific issues. Williamson reiterated his concern that district may move away from Southern Management contract without actually trying to fix the problem first.