PLAINFIELD — Plainfield School District 202 officials are considering outsourcing custodial services, which comes as a “complete shock,” according to the district’s support staff union.
A news release sent Friday afternoon announced District 202 will explore outsourcing custodial services to “more effectively manage its finances in light of the state’s unpredictable and inadequate" funding of public education.
"The condition of state's economy forces us, and many districts, to continuously look for new cost containment measures," Superintendent Lane Abrell said in the news release.
However, the Plainfield Association of Support Staff plans to fight potential outsourcing.
“The news that the school district will consider outsourcing came as a complete shock to the 148 talented, dedicated and very concerned custodians in the school district,” according to a statement attributed to PASS President John Piechocinski distributed Friday afternoon.
The PASS statement also said replacing “not-for-profit school district employees with a for-profit company” will jeopardize safety, cleanliness and security in schools.
“It replaces neighbors and community friends with a private crew of employees who answer to the company, not the school district,” the statement read.
News of the potential outsourcing comes after a one-year contract with PASS was approved Dec. 21 by the Board of Education that gave union members a 3 percent raise and improved benefits for most of them.
PASS members rallied for better pay and benefits following negotiations that began in April 2015. Some support staff members said they had made sacrifices in the past, such as pay freezes, minimal pay increases and decreases in health care coverage quality.
The District 202 news release stated that district officials notified PASS in a Feb. 11 letter that the board is considering contracting with a third party to perform custodial services performed by PASS members.
The district tentatively plans to solicit bids for custodial services on or about March 8 and the board would publicly review and consider bids at its April 11 meeting, according to the district's news release.
According to the PASS website, there will be a custodian meeting 9 a.m. Saturday at Timber Ridge Middle School to make staffers “aware of the future with District 202.”
Piechocinski said the meeting will be held to discuss plans and timelines.