Archived Story

Cass board votes to hire outside custodial service

Published 5:25pm Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Cassopolis Board of Education voted 6-1 at a special meeting Monday night to begin negotiations with DM Burr Group for its custodial services beginning in August.

Not everyone on the board was pleased with the decision.

Trustee Sue Horstmann, who questioned whether or not the board should lay off the custodians two weeks ago, again questioned whether hiring an outside firm was the right decision.

“I still am not on board with this,” Horstmann said. “I haven’t heard anything to convince me in the last couple of weeks that this is the way to go. I don’t think we have researched all of the aspects regarding retaining our employees.”

Horstmann went on to say that she had spoke to several people, including a large company that outsourced its custodial work and that they were displeased with the company and were thinking about not extending the contract when it runs out.

Board President Scott Ward assured her that they had done their “due diligence” in researching and exploring every option before coming to this decision.

Trustee Jason Pompey, a member of the district’s finance committee, told Horstmann that the difference between what DM Burr Group was going to charge the district and what the current custodians would concede to was just too far apart.

Supt. Tracy Hertsel met twice with the union and could not come up with a figure that would allow the district to retain the current custodians.

Julie Blaske, president of the CSEA, addressed the board and asked it to reconsider. She said that the last offer given to the board was good enough for them to keep their jobs.

“We have been working for two weeks like we were asked to by the board two weeks ago to see if we could come up with a concession package,” she said. “We did two proposals and apparently from what we got back from the finance committee they weren’t good enough.

“I will say these janitors here were willing to give up what they thought they could and we had a good package. They were willing to go down to 29 hours a week. They were willing to take their vacations in the summer when the kids were off so it wouldn’t interfere with the job and other people would not have to be brought in as subs. So there were things they were willing to give up. It just apparently wasn’t enough.”

The DM Burr Group, a facilities management company, is located in Flint. It contracts numerous school districts throughout the state of Michigan including Southwestern Michigan College and Brandywine.

With the vote, the board authorized Hertsel to begin negotiating a contract with DM Burr Group.

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