"Hybrid" outsourcing systems
Kentucky School Advocate
By Madelynn Coldiron
Though Nelson County’s largest schools and two other buildings are served by a custodial contractor, the district still retains a direct hand in those services. Except for the alternative school and central office, a district-employed custodian – called a day porter – works at each of those schools during the day for clean-up needs that crop up. The contract custodians then arrive in the evening for routine cleaning.
There is some overlap between the daytime district employee and the night crew, said Dana Cull, principal of Boston Elementary, one of those schools.
Skeptics question whether the contractors can replace longtime district custodians who have built relationships with students and staff, but Cull said those same kinds of relationships can be established with the contractors.
“Even though they’re not a part of our system, we embrace them as individuals as part of our system,” she said. “And I encourage teachers to communicate with the night people if there’s something that they want or hasn’t been done.”
The Warren County school district began outsourcing several years ago with a custodial company serving all its buildings, but when it switched contractors a year ago, cut that back to only the middle and high schools.
“I think that is where we hit the sweet spot because it seems to work better that way, with the elementary schools having some of those daytime custodians there that connected to the kids a little better,” board Chairman Kerry Young said. “I know when my kids were in school, our custodians would read to the kids – it was much more than cleaning the building. They were actually part of the education of the kids.”
Frankfort Independent Finance Officer Tena Hartley said she would like to see the district return to a setup it used in the past with some success: combining a part-time custodian position with bus driver duties. But that decision would be the school board’s, she noted.
“We’ve got a very small route to go, so a lot of times, it’s just needing a four-hour bus driver. A lot of people don’t want to come in for just a four-hour day, but if it’s an incentive to have a half-time bus driver, half-time custodian, that’s a win-win for me if you can find staff who can do that and have a CDL (commercial driver’s license).”