Nearly 40 custodian positions will be cut after the Warren County Public Schools Board of Education on Monday voted to outsource custodial services and make staffing adjustments to offset an expected $3.2 million in extra expenses next school year.
Outsourcing custodial services will save about $344,000 and staffing adjustments will save about $1.15 million. An additional $1.5 million will be saved by cutting textbook, telephone, energy and other expenses.
The board accepted a custodial services bid of $987,768 from Knoxville, Tenn.-based GCA Education Services. The only other bid, from Sodexo Operations of Altamonte Springs, Fla., was higher.
Custodial services will be outsourced at all eight middle and high schools, as well as Jody Richards Elementary School, which is opening in the fall. Outsourcing means 39 custodian positions will be eliminated beginning next fiscal year. The 15 tenured custodians will likely be spread among the other elementary schools.
Meanwhile, a new staffing formula will reduce the number of days some staff members work, including librarians, guidance counselors and some assistant principals.
Sharon McCubbins, librarian at Cumberland Trace Elementary School, spoke to board members before they voted. She said cutting 20 of her work days will affect students. Even though school won't necessarily be in session during the days in question, she said she needs to be at work doing inventory and preparing new materials and technology for use.
"If these days are cut, we'll have to do that during school time," McCubbins said. "It concerns me that we've spent millions of dollars on technology that students can no longer use until after school starts."
She said she knows that less-than-ideal decisions have to be made during hard financial times, but she urged the board to reconsider.
Board member Garry Chaffin expressed frustration with state legislators. He said lawmakers don't raise taxes, but then school districts don't get the money they need, leaving boards to make tough decisions.
Chaffin said nobody wants to make cuts, but it comes down to the students.
"We're going to do everything we can to hurt them the least," he said.
Board member Kerry Young said the decisions made by the board were difficult, but a lot of thought went into them. He makes every decision based on what's best for the students, and after that, how best to use taxpayer money.
"I think what's best for the district is what's been done tonight," Young said. "And I know it hurts."
Board chairman Mike Wilson said board members are sympathetic, but in light of budget cuts, the district has to figure out the best way to educate students with available resources.
"I wish the news were better, but it's not," Wilson said.
Superintendent Tim Murley said the budget situation is what it is. He wishes the district wasn't in this position, but he knows sometimes things that are needed still have to be cut.
"It's the hardest thing I've ever dealt with, this budget, because it cuts people," Murley said.
He said it makes him sick to cut staff, because after the students, staff are his priority.
"I love my staff," he said.