Outsourcing Up In The Air

ST. MARYS — The decision to outsource second and third shift cleaning duties in the St. Marys School District will have to wait until next week.

Members of the St. Marys Buildings and Grounds Committee decided to hold off on a recommendation until they could discuss the topic with Buildings and Grounds Supervisor Greg Adams. The committee met Thursday to hear proposals from two firms — Clean All Services, of Sidney, and Aetna Building Maintenance, of Springfield. After the meetings, members decided to meet at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at the district office on West Spring Street to discuss the matter with Adams — a conversation that could include the feasibility of wage concessions by the affected employees.

“In the discussions with the staff, clearly they knew we were taking this out for bidding, any indication of what type of an additional wage concession that they may accept,” committee member Ralph Wiley said. “I think there’s some immeasurable things our staff gives us. You can say someone passes a BCI&I and FBI check, but I know from my personal experience, I would feel uncomfortable with a floater or someone additional coming into my office and looking at what I have laying out. I have a concern with that.”

Wiley said keeping current district employees provides a certain comfort level in terms of security and consistency.

“They know what our expectations are,” Wiley said. “We may not realize $70,000 in savings if we stay with our own people, but certainly I think it’s worth addressing with them to see if they would take some additional wage concessions and maybe we can find some efficiencies in what they are already cleaning.”

Superintendent Mary Riepenhoff said she would have to talk with the district’s legal advisers regarding the topic. Initially, board members received information indicating a possible savings of approximately $145,000 by outsourcing second and third-shift cleaning. That figure was based upon an unsolicited bid in February based on square-footage alone. However, that number was trimmed to between $72,000 and $75,000.

Business Manager Kurt Kuffner brought up the issue of how a wage reduction would work. He asked if the reduction would be split across all shifts are just the impacted employees on second and third shift.

“Obviously if the board was to move ahead with outsourcing, there are still going to be St. Marys City Schools custodians and cleaners,” Kuffner said. “Who are you going to ask to take a wage concession — the entire group or simply the second and third shift group.”

Committee member Rees McKee agreed with Wiley.

“He has to be part of this as he is their direct boss,” McKee said. “I’m not ready to make a recommendation based upon what we heard today.”

Last week, district officials opened bids from seven firms regarding cleaning services. Clean All Services was the apparent low bidder, with a bid of $248,516 for the 2011-12 school year, with a $20 per hour cost for overtime/extra work. Aetna Building Maintenance submitted the second lowest bid, with an offer of $251,700 for the 2011-12 school year, with a $18.50 per hour cost for overtime/extra work.

Committee members grilled each bidder on a wide range of topics, including employee retention and rollover, quality assurance procedures and previous experience with schools.

Each firm also noted it would consider current second and third shift cleaners if they met hiring requirements. While Aetna said any hires would have to start out at the lowest pay scale, Clean All Services said its wages are determined by experience.

Aetna’s proposal called for a total of 48 hours a night at the high/middle school, 12 hours at the intermediate school, 12 hours at the primary school and two hours at the Dennings building for a total of 74 hours a night. Clean All Services’ proposal was for 58 hours of cleaning on a flex schedule. Currently the district uses approximately 68 hours of cleaning a night.

Committee members are expected to make a recommendation to the board at its next meeting, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the high/middle school.