McDonough, GA – At 7:30 p.m. Monday, 11 March 2013, the Henry County Board of Education called to order 30 minutes later than scheduled, opened to thundering applause from approximately 200 members of the community, some whom had been waiting for an hour and a half to speak to the board.
For more than an hour a dozen plus people spoke during the public comment segment of the meeting, the majority of which spoke against a potential privatization of custodial and landscaping services.
Henry County Schools issued requests for proposals (RFP), to firms providing custodial and landscaping services, the bid deadline is March 22.
The proposal could affect 285 custodians and 19 grounds crew workers if privatized.
Speaking first in support of the custodians and landscape workers was Willie Allen, UniServ director for the Georgia Association of Educators.
Allen opened by thanking the board for considering the informational document he had provided each board member, and spoke to several points within the document. This writer was able to obtain a copy of the seven page document “Why Privatization is Bad for Our Schools and Our Community,” and until now unavailable to the public, posted here.
Allen noted, “51% give money out of their own pocket to help students for things such as classroom materials – and more importantly for lunch.”
Allen continued, “Our custodians and landscape employees are not just custodians and landscape employees,” interrupted by applause “They are professionals in a profession that they love.”
Edward Head of McDonough said, “we are very much disturbed, by the way this has happened. It seems that nobody went to the custodians and tried to get some concessions, from them to find out what they could contribute. Everybody seems to be set on their minds to outsource, these people are, they, -- our neighbors, they are our church folk, we worship together, we pray together, and we vote, board members, you know we elect you to run our school system.” There was another standing ovation before Edward continued.
“when we work together, we can work out things, when we come together for the better good, we can do some good things, so you know it seems so disrespectful to them, -- its their livelihood.” ---- “It’s easy to outsource,” he said. “But these are human beings. Henry County can do better than this.”
Key points made by all of the speakers; Custodians are a part of each schools culture, while many Principals and teachers come and go. They are disciplinarians, counselors, role models, liaison to the community and parents. The person frequently called when an alarm goes off in the middle of the night, they open buildings for special events, set up equipment and put it away. And yes they do the job they were hired to do, take out the trash and mop the floors.
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