Wauwatosa School District lays off 34 custodians / Audience outraged at school board’s vote

Source: Rory Linnane, Wauwatosa Now, May 20, 2014

Despite repeated pleas from residents to look at other options, the Wauwatosa School Board voted 5-2 Monday, May 19, to outsource about half of its custodial staff and lay off 34 district employees for the next school year. District staff expects the move will save $850,000 annually. Without the change, they were estimating a budget shortfall of at least $325,000 next year looking only at a one percent increase to teacher salaries and 5 percent increase in health insurance costs, and being limited by state revenue limits….But many people who attended the meeting said there were other ways to save money that had not been thoroughly explored….Steve Domurat, head custodian at Underwood Elementary School, said he emailed board members with a proposal to reduce the hourly wages of district custodians like him by $4 for those on the higher end and by $3 for those on the lower end, or other amounts to meet the district’s goal. He suggested the district consider ending its contribution to custodians’ pensions, eliminating health insurance benefits at retirement and reducing their vacation time….Under the new contract with Dan Plautz Cleaning Services, custodians will make as low as $10 per hour at night and an average of $13 per hour, according to Buildings and Grounds Manager Tom Kulczewski. Currently, $13 is the minimum the district offers for an entry level cleaning position, with most custodians making $19-23 an hour, Kulczewski said….
Wauwatosa School District could lay off 40 custodians, outsource their jobs
Source: Rory Linnane, Wauwatosa Now, May 6, 2014

Preparing for a difficult budget cycle, Wauwatosa School District Superintendent Phil Ertl is asking the school board to outsource 40 custodial positions to save an estimated $925,000 annually…. Parents and teachers took the microphone one after the other, choking up as they shared examples of the impact custodians have had on their schools. One teacher recalled the custodian who watched from a school window to make sure she was safe walking to her car at night. Another teacher said a custodian equipped her with a flashlight and security lights after her lights went out on her first week of teaching. … Ertl said it was hard to hear the comments, but they didn’t sway him…..

…Wauwatosa isn’t the first district to consider outsourcing custodial work. The Mequon-Thiensville School Board laid off 17 custodial staff members in 2010 to save $700,000 over the next two school years. In 2012, New Berlin laid off 45 custodians to save about $500,000 annually. Demond Means, Mequon-Thiensville superintendent, said although the decision was one of the most difficult he has ever made, the district’s savings allowed it to hold down class sizes and maintain its textbook budget and other areas of “academic support.” “The men and women impacted by the decision weighed heavily on me,” Means said in a statement. “However, the funds that the district was able to save and re-direct to the classroom was significant.”…