County BOE considers custodial changes

Jeremy Nash
While the Loudon County Board of Education is under contract with GCA Education Services Inc., for custodial work, members are keeping their options open.
“We would probably continue on with the same matter of business that we’ve been doing for the past several years with GCA,” Director of Schools Jason Vance said. “However, I believe the board is interested in exploring other options in the future.”
Charlie Underwood, who served 40 years as facilities director and transportation director at Monroe County Schools, said during a Thursday workshop that if the board were to consider employing its own custodial staff, total expenditures could range from $982,819-$1.1 million, not including insurance costs. Supplies would cost $185,000 each year, and equipment would be a one-time expenditure at $132,939.
Underwood said the board would need 33 custodians, 29 of which would be full time. Figures were based on the school system having 717,828 square feet of floor space, 4,900 students and 400 staff members.
“I think when it’s all said and done the school board needs to consider several things,” Vance said. “... I think the board needs to take into consideration if it’s important enough to pay more money to make that transition.”
Under the current contract with GCA, which was bid out in 2013, Vance said the district pays $823,824 for custodial services. The initial contract, as presented during the workshop, showed the first year costing $716,547.84 prior to the new Greenback School being built.
Principals were asked to attend Thursday’s workshop and give insight on custodial staff. Many principals noted the high turnover rate during the evening shift.
“I think that we can all agree that we need to improve the system,” Ric Best, board member, said. “The principals stood strong tonight for the problems they shared with us in each of the schools and I think we need to react to that. The first thing is we can’t put the principals in a position to have to administer the program.”
BOE Chairman Scott Newman said terminating the contract with GCA and putting services out to bid could be an option.
“Now it may end up being that we go back and set down with GCA and tell them, ‘Hey, this is our problem. We need to work on these things,’ or it may be that we give them a 90-day notice and say, ‘We’re going to terminate the contract’,” Newman said. “There’s a lot of things to work out right there. One good thing that we’re going to have is that ... we have our Tennessee School Board Association conference and usually at those there are several vendors that are going to be there.”
Newman plans to appoint a committee during Thursday's regular meeting to bring options to the board. Members are expected to be Kenny Ridings, Craig Simon and Leroy Tate. Loudon County Maintenance Director Brian Brown will assist the committee.
“It’ll be according to what all the board wants, but that’s why I think we need to look at all the options and I thought that the committee would be the best to go and look at different options and come back to us as a whole board and we’ll work this out,” Newman said. “I think it’s going to be a longer process than I think some want us to be. This may be something we’re dealing with the first of the year and then we decide — because we ... certainly don’t want to be looking up six months from now and be in the same position.”