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.”