Chelmsford district’s new custodial system earns high marks

Source: Alana Melanson, Lowell Sun, August 15, 2016

Driven by dissatisfaction with the level of cleanliness, high turnover and a history of employee thefts, school officials chose earlier this year to end their contract with Aramark, the company that cleaned the schools since custodians were outsourced in 2011. They opted instead to institute a hybrid model: In-district custodians clean the schools during the day and contracted vendors provide services at night. Curley was hired to provide oversight and ensure accountability. A day custodian was hired at each elementary and middle school. Three hired at Chelmsford High will work on staggered shifts to ensure full week and weekend coverage at the district’s busiest school, Lang said. He said a few of the 10 new custodians are former Aramark employees who had good relationships with their schools and wished to stay. Advanced Maintenance Solutions Inc. of Beverly was hired to clean the Byam, Center, Harrington and South Row elementary schools, the Westlands School and the central administration building. S.J. Services Inc. of Danvers was hired to clean McCarthy and Parker middle schools. Dynamic Janitorial Cleaning Inc. of Milford was hired to clean the high school. Each vendor has a one-year contract with two- and three-year options. Over the summer, the contractors are busy cleaning the schools from floor to ceiling. The School Department-hired custodians are working with town facilities employees to beautify the grounds and exteriors of each school. ….

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3 contractors to share Chelmsford schools custodial duties
Source: Alana Melanson, Lowell Sun, April 16, 2016

The School Committee has accepted Superintendent Jay Lang’s recommendation to contract with three smaller cleaning companies to provide nighttime custodial services for Chelmsford schools in fiscal 2017. At a Friday afternoon meeting, the committee voted unanimously to contract with Advanced Maintenance Solutions Inc. S.J. Services, Inc. and Dynamic Janitorial Cleaning Inc. for a combined cost of $733,294. The three companies will provide services at night, while soon-to-be-hired in-house custodians will clean and provide maintenance during the day as part of a new hybrid custodial model. … Aramark was one of 10 companies to submit proposals for the new cleaning contract, but was rejected due to previous concerns. …

Chelmsford schools to alter custodial model
Source: Alana Melanson, Lowell Sun, February 15, 2016x

Keeping in line with an earlier vote to pursue a hybrid custodial model, the School Committee on Tuesday authorized a request for proposals for nighttime school custodial services. Under the minimum staffing model proposed by Superintendent of Schools Jay Lang in January, the School Department will hire a district-wide director of facility services, a lead day custodian for each building and two junior custodians at Chelmsford High School. The new in-district staff will be responsible for daily operations. Contracted staff will work 2:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. for each specified day of the contract. …

Chelmsford school board leans toward hybrid custodial-service plan
Source: Robert Mills, Lowell Sun, January 5, 2016

The Chelmsford School Committee took a first step toward returning some, or perhaps even all, of the School Department’s custodians to its payroll Tuesday night due to dissatisfaction with the work of an outside contractor. The committee voted unanimously to authorize Superintendent Jay Lang to prepare a request for proposals from companies that would provide contracted custodians for each of the town’s schools, with those contract custodians working under supervisors employed by the School Department. That leaves the board with the option of eventually choosing a hybrid system of contractors being supervised by in-house employees, or a system in which all custodians are in-house employees. …

Chelmsford school board to take up custodial services
Source: Alana Melanson, Lowell Sun, January 5, 2016

The contract for Aramark, which has provided custodial services for the School Department since it outsourced in 2011, ends on June 30. Since the company was hired, four of its employees have been arrested for alleged thefts from the schools, staff and students, and one of its contractors was arrested on drug charges. In addition to the thefts, many have expressed dissatisfaction with the level of cleanliness in the schools. School Committee Secretary Evelyn Thoren said Lang will present the committee with three options:

  • Continue outsourcing and issue another request for proposals from vendors, cost currently unknown;
  • Bring the custodians completely back in-house, at an estimated $780,000 in personnel costs per year;
  • Create a hybrid of the two, at an estimated annual cost of $362,000 for in-house personnel and an unknown amount for contracted services.

Opinion: House cleaning in Chelmsford
Source: The Lowell Sun, October 20, 2015

Since the School Department privatized custodians in 2011, three other Aramark employees have been charged with stealing school, staff and students’ property, including computers, credit cards, and prescription medication. According to School Committee Chairman Al Thomas, Aramark’s contract expires on June 30, the end of the fiscal year. Thomas told The Sun the schools are looking at other options. … We see this as an opportunity for new School Superintendent Jay Lang to demonstrate the money-management skills for which he was known in Lowell. And that could include returning the task of cleaning — not cleaning out — its schools to town employees. We trust the town’s vetting process would preclude janitors from partaking in the type of illegal activity alleged here.

Another janitor arrested in theft at a Chelmsford school
Source: Alana Melanson, Lowell Sun, October 17, 2015

Another Aramark custodian at Chelmsford High School has been charged with theft after a month-long investigation into missing cafeteria funds, police said. … According to School Committee Chairman Al Thomas, another Aramark employee who allegedly acted as a lookout for Ramos was not charged but was also removed from the school. On Sept. 29, a school administrator reported to police that someone had been stealing money from the cafeteria cash drawer for several weeks, police said. Cafeteria staff place the cash drawer in a locked closet after every shift. There were several occasions where employees noticed the drawer was not balanced at the start of the morning shift.

Questions rise on outsourced janitorial work /Chelmsford leaders rethink move after school cost increases, thefts
Source: Alana Melanson, Lowell Sun, June 21, 2015

The School Department outsourced custodial services in 2011 on the projections that it would free up at least $200,000 each year of the three-year contract. Yet as costs rise, and with several instances of thefts involving workers hired by contractor Aramark, some school and town officials are questioning whether outsourcing was a wise decision. … Town Manager Paul Cohen said there have been numerous cleanliness complaints in the schools and instances where projects that were supposed to be completed during school vacations were not. There were also some delayed school openings during the winter because walkways were not cleared of snow in a timely manner. …. In July 2011, 26 union custodians [editor’s note: AFSCME Council 93] were paid a gross vacation buyout amount of $100,070, according to Town Accountant Darlene Lussier. Because this payout did not include compensation for sick-bank hours, 17 former custodians filed an unfair-labor-practice complaint. According to town records, $20,000 was disbursed to the custodians in October 2013 in a settlement….

Police: Custodian caught stealing Chelmsford students’ drugs
Source: Lisa Redmond, Lowell Sun, June 19, 2013

A 21-year-old Lowell man is accused of breaking into the school nurse’s locked cabinet at a Chelmsford middle school and stealing students’ prescription drugs. … Police say about a dozens of pills were missing from different students’ medication bottles. The pills were stimulants and medication for Attention Deficit Disorder, police said. The medication was stored in a locked file cabinet in the nurse’s office. Police say the key to the cabinet was stored in the nurse’s unlocked desk drawer. Both school nurses were cooperative and had no involvement, police said. One nurse told police she found dirt on her desk on several mornings, suggesting someone had been sitting in her chair and putting his feet on her desk. Her desk drawers were in different positions. … McPhee told the school that a private company is hired by the schools to clean the school on Saturday. The company told police that one of the custodians worked until 7:30 p.m., and that Ralls worked until 9:30 p.m. …Ralls allegedly told police his had used opiates for year, but stopped and was stealing the medications to help pay his rent. Ralls told police he wasn’t the only one stealing, that another custodian stole money from a teacher’s drawer, documents state. …

School Department to Outsource Custodians / The committee has decided not to accept a proposal from the custodians union.
Source: Krista Perry, Chelmsford Patch, June 8, 2011

In an effort to save more than $200,000, the School Committee last night said it will outsource its school custodians to an outside vendor….In an executive session vote, the committee decided to reject that proposal and outsource custodial services to a vendor under the terms of the RFP. The change will take place on July 1. … Aramark, the schools’ top choice, presented a plan to the committee. Five representatives told committee members they will regularly survey and meet with principals and administrators, control inventory, and train their employees monthly on new equipment or processes….