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School District Votes to Outsource Custodians

School District Votes to Outsource Custodians

PUEBLO, Colo. - Financial trouble in one of southern Colorado's largest school districts is now hitting custodians.

The school district's plan involves outsourcing. The district needs to hire five custodians to work at night and for months it said it would outsource the new hires. Dozens of people were at the school board meeting Tuesday hoping to change that plan.

Custodians. Relatives of custodians. School administrators. They all made their case before the school board. They argued custodians do much more than clean a building; often, they're the first line of defense during an emergency and even counsel students.

"I see different kids every day and I see what they need and part of I think they need me," said custodian Josie Casados.

Rose Holloway, a District 60 school board member, said, "I think the problem is that our custodians seem to think that they're in there to mentor and to counsel and they're not. They're in their to clean and I don't believe that's part of their job description."

Those against outsourcing say hiring custodians to work at minimum wage without benefits would not attract the kinds of employees the board would want around students.

They also argued about the language written in the request for proposal. It states: the contractor shall strictly prohibit interaction between the employee and the student population.

Custodians argue it would be nearly impossible to do their job without talking with students.

"I do have grandchildren that live here and I'm going to encourage my children to put them in a different school district. I don't want my grandchildren in a school with privateer contractors working where there's no accountability," said Judy Near, who is with the National Education Association.

The school board voted three to two in favor of outsourcing. The board projects a savings of nearly $108 thousand- since the jobs won't include benefits.

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