Outsourcing is coming to Mattapoisett. Well, at least to the local schools.
On December 11, the Mattapoisett School Committee voted to outsource custodial services as a cost cutting measure in FY19. But at least one school committee member had questions around cutting jobs that might put local people out of work and outsourcing that may not bring value.
As Mattapoisett School Committee Vice Chairman Patrick LeClair rounded out his comments regarding the selection of Star Building Services of Boston, whose Request For Quotation came in at $137,000, he noted that by moving to outsourced services in this category of facility needs, the school budget would see a $27,000 savings in FY18. He said that SBS employees undergo the same level of security clearance as the current janitorial staff and that a daytime supervisor would be on-hand to oversee employees.
But School Committee member Carole Clifford wasn’t convinced this decision was in the best interest of the students, the two elementary schools, or those whose jobs are threatened.
Four current custodial employees would be terminated at the end of the fiscal year – July 1, 2018. LeClair said that those whose jobs would be affected could apply to SBS and may subsequently be hired by the Boston-based company, thereby keeping their jobs.
Clifford asked how the current pay and benefit structure stacked up against what these employees might get if hired by SBS. In a follow-up with Clifford, she said that SBS listed hourly wages at between $12 and $15 per hour, whereas currently the local custodians earn between $13 and $18 per hour.
Clifford said, “Custodians have a relationship with students and the school … they care about the school.” Continuing, she said, “My experience has been that eventually those savings go away,” she stated.
The majority of the School Committee members voted for the one-year contract with Clifford opposed.
In other business, the MCAS scores continue to improve, reported Associate Principal Kevin Tavares.
“Sixty-three percent fell into proficient or advanced,” he said, for Grade 5. He pointed out that this was above the state average. Grade 6 had achieved ELA scoring with 72% of the students succeeding, he said. “All students were over or very near….” he added.
Superintendent Doug White said, “The state average is fifty percent … our kids have reached the upper half.” Tavares commented, “We outscored the state, especially in sixth grade.”
Tavares went on to say that Grades 3 through 6 found 86% of students meeting or exceeding top state scoring.
Principal Rose Bowman reported on ALICE Training in the district, which stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter, and evacuate for active shooter incidents within the school setting.
Bowman said that Mattapoisett Police Officer Matthew McGraw discussed with the students what to do in a crisis saying, “This is not an easy, but a necessary topic.” She said that part of the conversation included telling the children what it would be like in a real situation, using language appropriate to the age group.
“It’s necessary that this is addressed and it empowers them,” Bowman concluded.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett School Committee is scheduled for January 8 at 6:30 pm in the Center School cafeteria.
By Marilou Newell