Jackson Custodial Workers' Union Meets

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Jackson Public School Superintendent Dan Evans announced a plan Wednesday to privatize the cleaning staff of JPS. The move reduces the cost of keeping schools clean from $2.7 million per year to somewhere near $1.6 million. 51 custodians would be laid off, if the plan goes through the school board at their Monday night meeting.

Workers would have the option to work with the private agency, though they would lose benefits. JPS has considered three bids as a part of their proposal to privatize. The lowest comes from Enviro Clean, Inc. of Holland. Officials say Enviro Clean has already advertised and interviewed some potential staffers. JESPA, the union Jackson's custodial staff belongs to, is concerned there may not be enough positions to go around. Workers will lose their benefits.

The administration justifies their decision, in part, by noting some problems with the custodial unit at JPS. Parent satisfaction with school cleanliness has decreased in recent years. Absentee rates among employees are at 11 per employee, per year.

School board VP Dr. David Hasley says those numbers are not the central issue, but it would be difficult to say no to the current proposal because of the need for cuts. Jackson's school board is required by law to balance the budget.

Jackson Public Schools face a $1.2 million budget shortfall, after losing 313 students--and the state funding that goes with them--in this school year. The district had budgeted to lose about 100 students.