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Board of Ed Votes to Keep Its Custodians

New contract approved for Madison Facilities Staff Association; Aramark contract pulled from agenda.

The Madison Board of Education voted Tuesday night to approve a new contract for the 20 custodians in the Madison Facilities Staff Association and Superintendent Dr. Michael Rossi said it's time for the district to move on from a controversial proposal to outsource most of the school district's custodial services to another company.

The school board unanimously approved the contract for the district custodians, and then voted to remove agenda items related to awarding a contract to Aramark to handle most of the school district's custodial services starting next school year, which was up for vote. Board Vice President Pat Rowe cast the lone no vote against pulling the Aramark contract from the agenda.

Board President Lisa Ellis said the issues remain with school cleanliness and a staffing shortage, which some officials said the outsourcing plan was meant to address, but the board is counting on provisions in the new contract and community involvement to improve the conditions of the schools.

jerry stevenson May 27, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Forgive me for tossing a few facts into the mix to stir the pot and cause confusion. Readers can draw their own conclusions. The numbers were given to me by LE.They reflect the averages prior to the new contract: Average custodian salary with benefits.....$68262 Average custodian salary $46860
been there done that May 27, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Karin, big picture, I agree....guess I'm a real free markets person...I, too, have been laid off, but was able to reposition myself successfully. I strongly believe that public unions work directly at odds with the taxpayers, and have successfully imbedded themselves into NJ politics while taxpayers weren't looking. Times are tougher, the salary and benefit deals are unsustainable, and we've got to play hardball to get things back on track. You might not like Gov. chrystie, and you might have a real distaste for the custodian debate, but it has to be done to restore a sensible balance to our finances. That's it for me on this topic, best to all!
Steve Wells May 27, 2012 at 05:26 PM
Are there unfair demands made by SOME unions? Sometimes. (In Madison, the police and DPW refusing to go along with the pay freeze a few years ago that was accepted by both teachers and firemen is the only one that might be considered such.) Are municipalities and corporations loyal to employees and provide them with security? Not any longer. Will they run roughshod over people in order to save a nickel? Sad to say, usually. There is no question in my mind that if it were NOT for a union, the Meaney-Lozier Board of Ed of a decade ago would have fired every teacher in Madison, regardless of ability, who made over a certain amount, and replaced them with newbies they could get on the cheap. May improve the bottom line short-term, but in the long run such a system would have disastrous consequences. In short, unions are necessary ONLY because management -- moreso today than ever -- cannot be trusted.
Steve Wells May 27, 2012 at 05:39 PM
As I've said repeatedly, less than HALF the average DPW salary and benefits. If YOU advocate cuts, Jerry, why are you looking at the FAR LESS impactful group? And presenting $46K as some sort of inflated number on which to live is just being ridiculous. As I've asked before, where do you draw the line? $25K? 15K? Slavery? Pick a number a put together a household budget.
jerry stevenson May 27, 2012 at 06:34 PM
This is for the blogger who posted at 1:39PM. I have not taken a position on the custodian issue. You have not seen me at any BOE meetings nor have I posted my thoughts about the issue on this forum so you pick the salary number that you feel you would need if you were a custodian living in Madison. I do think there are people living in Madison who would jump at the chance to make $46000. Many families have two wage earners to help support their lifestyle. Also please privide insights as to where the money would come from to support a significant increase in salary and benefits for the custodial staff knowing that the BOE is working under a 2% cap mincrease..
Patchisarag May 27, 2012 at 06:50 PM
SW, not sure if your comment is directed towards me or not but I do not believe that ANY of our public employees are overpaid including the teachers. I know you constantly harp on the "50 employees making over $100,000" so I did some research. In 2011 18 borough employees had base salaries over $100,000 according to data universe (app.com) and in 2010 there was 19. I then found an article (2010 pay) that broke down their pay to include OT and all the other stuff. http://madison.patch.com/articles/overtime-other-pay-swells-municipal-paychecks#pdf-4795699 This is where I believe you get the large number of employees over $100,000 but it includes a lot of overtime and for the cops outside job pay. Does that mean that being short staffed is creating a lot of the overtime? After speaking with several of the employees throughout the town my understanding is that the town would rather pay the large amounts of OT then hire people so that explains some of the larger salaries.
Patchisarag May 27, 2012 at 06:59 PM
I do have a question, which maybe you can answer SW since you seem to be one of the more knowledgeable posters on this site. If we are down so many employees over the course of the last few years, where are the savings? By not replacing them we must have saved at least (conservatively) one million dollars. The cops alone are probably a million and then add the 8 to 10 DPW guys and its got to be more like 1.5 or 1.75 million dollars. We are also down numerous employees in Borough Hall so it has to be closer to 2 million. Where did those savings go? Also, I understand that during negotiations, the Police offered to switch health plans which was then agreed to buy all the other employees for an approximate savings of 1.8 million over three years. Thats a lot of savings if you ask me.
Steve Wells May 27, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Jerry, no one's lobbying for an INCREASE in the salaries of the custodians or ANY Madison employee group that I know of. Certainly not me. But you get what you pay for, and Aramark shamelessly hires the dregs who are desperate enough to accept poverty-level wages. Only one step away from the plantation.
been there done that May 27, 2012 at 11:15 PM
First, its the entire compensation structure for public sector employees that killing NJ towns. Salaries that are higher than what they need to be, pensions and health bennies that are insane. Second, Aramark is hardly shameless; they are paying market rates for unskilled labor. So be it! Why, Mr Wells, do you insist on forcing the people of Madison to overpay???
jerry stevenson May 27, 2012 at 11:47 PM
Last I knew the real % for the unemployed in the United States was north of 16%. I'm not sure the unemployed (including a lot of recent veterans) appreciate being called "dregs". All they want is an entry level job to prove themselves and move on from there. I appreciate the fact that it would be wonderful if entry level pay was 50K but the world isn't operating that way in either the United States, Europe, or the Far East.
Steve Wells May 28, 2012 at 12:05 AM
So why aren't you up in arms on what their counterparts in the municipality are making, which is more than double? Speaking of double, seems like a double standard.
Steve Wells May 28, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Oh, the "real %"? You mean the far right-wing one, Jer? THAT %? Heard it's gone through the roof in Wisconsin. Guess that's why they're having a recall election. Those right-wing policies just ain't a-workin'. I feel bad for you that your party left you in a centrist no-man's-land, Jerry, but I guess rather than hold to your core beliefs you'll move to the extreme right with them so as not to be a man without a party.
Mikey D May 28, 2012 at 12:12 AM
Perhaps because they work a 12 month year? You know, like us folk.
Anonymous May 28, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Following Mr. Wells down the Rabbit Hole of "Fairness" is a fool's errand. Ditto for debating his demand that the borough take action on its salary structure BEFORE the BOE does anything to focus more of its $$ on educating students.
Anonymous May 28, 2012 at 12:51 AM
The total compensation (salary + health care benefits + pension) have been going up by such a rapid pace that even with losing headcount through attrition, the per head cost of the public sector workforce is still rising at 3 - 5% per year. If you look at the last few budgets, the borough's overall operating budget has remained static - 2009 - $25.18M 2012 - $25.15M
Anonymous May 28, 2012 at 12:56 AM
They're working well enough that the Recall is going to be a spectacular failure. And the unemployment figures look better than the nation as a whole - http://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=z1ebjpgk2654c1_&met_y=unemployment_rate&idim=state:ST550000&fdim_y=seasonality:S&dl=en&hl=en&q=unemployment+in+wisconsin#!ctype=l&strail=false&bcs=d&nselm=h&met_y=unemployment_rate&fdim_y=seasonality:S&scale_y=lin&ind_y=false&rdim=country&idim=state:ST550000&ifdim=country&tstart=1214539200000&tend=1335499200000&hl=en_US&dl=en&ind=false
jerry stevenson May 28, 2012 at 01:24 AM
To the blogger that posted at 8:11 Sunday: I believe you were the Editor of the University of Virginia Cavalier in 1974. Surely you checked your facts before publishing a story. While the adminisration in Washington says the current unemployment is a little over 8% they conveniently ignore the large amount of people who have given up and dropped out. But surely you know that.
been there done that May 28, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Anon-agree; there is a serious lack of rational rebuttal material here...slavery???dregs??? Recalls in WI because unemply is higher? Jerry-there's three key stats here: the U-6 quoted unemployment rate (~8%); the U-16 rate (~16%), which includes the underemployed; and then the whole issue of people dropping out of the workforce. As to the latter, there are some serious demographics shifts at work; the decline in the labor force participation rate isn't just discouraged workers, as there is a fair amount of voluntary retirement going on as well.
Lisa Ellis May 28, 2012 at 02:02 AM
Not sure this thread is still about custodians but the $46,000 mentioned earlier is the average salary, not a starting salary. We do not have a set starting salary and our shortest term custodian has been here for three years. We have 9 custodians with 20 years or more and 9 with approximately 10 years of service. They have not and will not receive a wage increase during the life of this contract which spans 2010-2013. They are also subject to the full extent of the state required healthcare contributions because they did not have a contract until last Tuesday. All our custodians and maintenance staff are full twelve month employees.
been there done that May 28, 2012 at 02:23 AM
LE, does the BoE release wage/benefit data per employee?
Steve Wells May 28, 2012 at 03:01 AM
It was actually 1972, Jer, and, as editor, I endorsed Nixon, not glowingly but as the slightly less undesirable choice. Not a popular thing to do on a major college campus, but given that same choice today, I'd still make the same decision. In those days the radicals were on the left. Today they're on the right, with income inequality at an all-time high. Once -- just once -- I want to hear a leader of today's right advocate mutual sacrifice rather than ONLY seek to drive low wage earners into the ground while creating even more breaks for the high wage earners. Without that mutuality, it's impossible to believe they're remotely sincere in anything they propose. As for the often skewed perceptions, Thomas Friedman says it best in his column in today's Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/27/opinion/sunday/friedman-president-obama-should-seize-the-high-ground.html?_r=1&hp
Lisa Ellis May 28, 2012 at 03:28 AM
We haven’t posted it in the way the borough has but the board can talk about it again. In the meantime the information can be requested through the Business Office at 359 Woodland Road. The Asbury Park Press posted all the teachers’ salaries not that long ago.
Karin Swenson Szotak May 28, 2012 at 01:27 PM
Lisa, can you please clarify this. The contract that spans 2010-2013, but they didn't have a contract until Tuesday. I thought they agreed 2 years ago to a wage freeze (they were the 1st group to do so). So they have been working without a contract for the last 2 years? Also, are you saying that they received a 'true' wage freeze (not the effective wage freeze that the teachers agreed to)? So in other words, their net pay has declined over time, due to the required healthcare contributions? Finally, one question that the board did not address last week was will they be able to hire more custodians (even on a PT basis) to cover the gaps (including but not limited to the changeover to block scheduling in the fall)? I know there are many people who are interested in hearing more about the plan to 'fill in the gaps'.
Anonymous May 28, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Wow, the BOE is going to need to hire MORE custodians? Didn't the outsourcing proposal give them at least ten additional workers? Wouldn't that have "filled in the gaps" without any additional cost?? Once these new workers are on board, will it be like the Hotel California, "they can never leave"?
Karin Swenson Szotak May 28, 2012 at 09:53 PM
Anon, at the last meeting, a MJS custodian retirement, effective next month, was approved. So, if for nothing else, I assume they will need to replace him. And as far as I know, there is still a need for extra hands to set-up and take-down the auxillary gym as a lunchroom at MHS is September. I suppose there is always the option of eating on the floor, as is done in Chatham, but I don't believe that was the direction we were headed.
Anonymous May 29, 2012 at 12:26 AM
That sounds like paying more for less. I thought Mr. Wells swore that the non-outsourcing solution was just as costly as outsourcing. Was he lying to us?
Anonymous May 29, 2012 at 01:55 AM
A friend pointed out that when you scanned through the pictures that NJ.com posted from the meeting, especially the shots of the crowd, all you see are public sector workers and their family members. Where are all the average Madison taxpayers? Are we supposed to assume that they sat out the meeting because they were in opposition to the outsourcing? My guess is that the dozens of people who showed up were the sum total of the people opposing outsourcing, not just the tip of the iceberg. http://photos.nj.com/summit-photos/2012/05/madison_board_of_ed_meeting_ma_19.html
Anonymous May 29, 2012 at 03:42 AM
"Mutual Sacrifice," what does that mean? To Liberals, it's just another excuse to raise taxes. We've seen it time after time in NJ. We're already up to Millionaires Tax Number 3 or 4. For some reason, no matter how many times we raise the tax rate, politicians seem to find a way to spend it all and more, and then come back demanding that "the rich" "pay their fair share," or "mutual sacrifice." As Yogi would say, "It's Déjà vu all over again." Why should anyone pay more in taxes when our elected officials refuse to take even the most simple actions that would save us all money? On the Obama Front, you'll be happy to know that even the Liberally Leaning PolitiFact team found it laughable when Cory Booker tried to claim that discretionary spending under Obama was the lowest it had been in decades. In fact, it's higher than it's been in 20 years! http://www.politifact.com/new-jersey/statements/2012/may/28/cory-booker/cory-booker-claims-obama-has-overseen-nations-lowe/
Friends, Romans (West Madisonians) and other Madisonians. Please do not get all worked up about liberal versus conservative, democrat versus republican - because the fact is that both love to spend money - just on different things. Some like guns, some like butter. Both of our major political parties love buying both - using someone else's borrowed dime. Even the Governor is going back to the well to pay for tax cuts we cannot afford despite his campaign promises not to. So unless he is a Liberal, that means conservatives love to spend money they don't have either. So both wings - get over yourselves. One last thing. Unless you all are brain dead, it is quite obvious that Obama is going to win quite easily this November. So for those of you that cannot stand him, please stop whining about it. Liberals survived Bush intact after 8 years, Conservatives will still be around after 8 years of Obama. He is doing a pretty good job despite conservative efforts to wreck the economy even more than they did when they were in charge. Peace be upon you all. Aladdin J.
Anonymous May 29, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Interesting update on the Aramark/Roxbury janitor who was caught stalking a student - http://newjerseyhills.com/mt_olive_chronicle/news/mount-olive-janitor-reassigned-after-charged-with-stalking-in-roxbury/article_170235ac-a8c4-11e1-b7ac-001a4bcf887a.html According to the article, he's worked for the Mt. Olive BOE for 10 years! I guess they also are bottom feeders and he was paid so little that he needed a second job. Additionally, whereas Aramark terminated him immediately, Mt. Olive is simply reassigning him. Seems like his union contract will provide him with the ability to remain on the job until his case in Roxbury is adjudicated. Not sure that that is what's best for the children of the MO school district.

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