New Berlin - When the doors reopen in September, students will pour into New Berlin schools that will be kept clean primarily by a contract service provider instead of the district's own custodians.
Earlier this summer, the School Board decided the New Berlin School District would lay off approximately 50 full- and part-time custodians in a cost-saving move. Subsequently, it awarded a three-year contract to MidAmerican Building Services, West Allis, the lowest of five bidders, to do much the work.
Saying the outsourcing will be a major help in reducing next year's $1.5 million potential deficit, Roger Dickson, chief financial and operating officer, said, "We really have no choice."
The district will save an estimated $465,000 this school year by outsourcing, Dickson said.
But the arrangement will be a hybrid.
The schools will keep 10 of its custodians - one for each of the four elementary schools and three in each of the two middle/high schools, Dickson said. Six of the 10 will be head custodians overseeing work at each school.
One of those custodians is Dennis Lucchesi, secretary of the union representing the custodial workers, who wanted to clear up misunderstandings that have arisen about how much custodians have been paid.
Lucchesi said some erroneous information that custodians received $24 to $28 an hour has been distributed. Only head custodians who are responsible for entire schools and who have special skills such as in plumbing and electrical work and hold special licenses earn that much, Lucchesi said.
Like many others, Lucchesi worked part-time for the district. Part-timers earn $12 an hour and get no benefits, he said.
The last day for laid-off custodians will be Aug. 17.
- Jane Ford-Stewart
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