Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Outsourcing of custodial work continues to spread

April 9, 2010
NASHVILLE, TN — The outsourcing of custodial services is becoming a popular choice for many cash-strapped school districts across the country, according to National Public Radio.
As a result of outsourcing, districts are able to save money and teachers; however, some in-house custodians that are being dismissed who have been loyal workers for many years and have also played an important educational role at their schools, the story stated.
National Public Radio''s member station, WPLN-FM in Nashville, caught up with one custodian, Preston Birdsong, who may be searching for a new job in coming months since Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools plans to privatize more than 600 custodians to save a projected $5 million, the story noted.
Industry experts, such as Dave Frank, have confirmed that widespread outsourcing of custodial work will continue to increase in coming years as education budgets across the country tighten, offering a great opportunity for contractors and a difficult scenario for many in-house employees like Birdsong.
In his nearly three decades here, the reporter noted, Birdsong has seen eight principals come and go and this longevity has earned him respect. Still, Birdsong has kept his position in perspective from something he was told early on.
Birdsong said: "When I first became a head custodian, we had a meeting, and they told me something that kind of stuck with me: Be careful how you treat the kids because you might be the first smiling face they see in the morning time and the last smiling face they see in the evening time."
According to Superintendent of Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools Jesse Register, current employees will get first dibs on the outsourced jobs and, like privatization efforts in other cities, Register has asked that the contractor include a retirement plan, the story added.
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