Less than half of school custodians hired by private contractor

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 at 2:08pm

Union leaders say only 192 former Metro school employees have retained their positions as custodians or groundskeepers.

Metro Nashville Public Schools officials contend the number is actually 252.

Either way, both figures are significantly less than the 602 school custodians and groundskeepers who were employed by the school district prior to July 1, the first day the school district’s new outsourcing policy went into effect.

When Director of Schools Jesse Register pushed to privatize the district’s custodial services in this year’s budget –– a move he defended as a way protect the jobs of teachers –– he said the goal would be to retain as many current custodians as possible.

According to data supplied by MNPS officials, 321 Metro school custodians applied for their same positions with newly hired GCA Services Group, the company hired by the school board to perform custodial and groundskeeping services. Of those applicants, 252 received recommendations from their principals, passed their background checks and were ultimately hired.

In all, GCA has hired 570 workers to serve as custodians or groundskeepers, with about 680 workers to be hired by the end of this weekend.

Mark Naccarato, who represents the local chapter of the Service Employees International Union, claims the district has only retained 192 Metro school custodians and groundskeepers.

“There are about 45 or 50 people that we can’t account for because we don’t have a phone number for them or we can’t find them in the work site,” Naccarato said. “So, when the school district says 252, and we say 192, they could be telling the truth if all 50 of those people we can’t find have been hired by GCA. We also think they’re counting some part-time custodians.”

Meredith Libbey, an aide to Register, said the district is doing everything it can to re-hire as many Metro school custodians as it can, pointing out that 140 former district employees didn’t apply to retain their jobs with GCA.

“We were surprised that about a quarter have not applied,” Libbey said. “It could be that there were a large number of people who were eligible to retire. They may have decided to do that or they may still be deciding whether or not they want to move forward.”

6 Comments on this post:

By: futrconslr on 7/22/10 at 6:12

Sounds like the system had too many custodians and groundskeepers.

By: xhexx on 7/22/10 at 6:16

So, 321 applied and "Of those applicants, 252 received recommendations from their principals, passed their background checks and were ultimately hired."
Sounds to me like those other 69 shouldn't have been able to keep their jobs in the first place.

By: localboy on 7/22/10 at 7:45

Good points all.

By: morpheus120 on 7/22/10 at 8:00

NOT good points at all, people.

The school system needs those 600 people to get the buildings ready for the first day of school and to keep them clean. If the company doesn't hire 600 people, you are going to see what happens. Half the schools already have grass that's a foot high because our private sector friends aren't hiring enough people or they're hiring people off the street that don't know what they're doing. Now you want that kind of performance INSIDE the schools near your children? Clearly you all don't have children in public school, which apparantly makes this OK.

And xhexx, all your observation tells me is that 69 of them did not get recommendations from their principals. That doesn't mean that these were bad employees, it means their principal didn't like them. That's favoritism. And anyone who knows any school principal knows that they have their own little God complexes and they are totally capable of screwing over good employees for petty reasons.

Jesse Register and this school board are all a bunch of whores doing the bidding of the Chamber of Commerce, who have no stake in our schools except to make money off of them through privatization and charters. Can't wait to see how this new "pro-business" public school model delivers for the kids when those TCAP scores come out....

By: pswindle on 7/22/10 at 5:47

Mayor Dean, see what you have done to these helpless people. Register does not belong in Nashville, and I'm having second thoughts about you. Will all speak English?

By: Loretta Bridge on 7/23/10 at 7:45

Is the company that got this contract a Nashville company or are we being outsourced
again. Mayor Dean doesn't care. His children are in private school. All he cares about is getting side walks in Bellemeade