School Board Makes No Decision Though Deadline Draws Near

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(Memphis) With nine weeks left before the school districts merge, the 23-member school board failed Thursday to decide what company will receive the contract for custodial services.

This is one of many important decisions in the process of cutting the budget. Outsourcing custodians to the staff-recommended company, GCA, would save the merged district almost $13 million.

Instead, the board debated for two hours Thursday and took a series of votes resulting in no decision. They will rehash the same topic for a third time at next Tuesday's board meeting.

"It's very frustrating," said Billy Orgel, chairman of the board.

Commissioner David Reaves also commented on the difficulty in getting the votes needed, because several commissioners were absent.

Interim Superintendent Dorsey Hopson told the board, "I implore you. I am asking this board, to please make a decision."

He warned that if no action was taken, they may not have buildings ready for doors to open on August 5th.

The board did not address the issue of bus transportation, as originally planned on the agenda.

Hopson also said that without direction from the board on this contract, the budget preparation would be stalled. The budget was supposed to be presented to the board next week.

Even with this rush, the assistant director of AFSCME Local 1733, representing the custodial workers, hoped the back and forth debate provided an opportunity to reverse the outsourcing decision.

SCS already outsources their custodial services to GCA, while MCS employs its own custodians.

GCA's plan includes hiring 736 custodians, compared to the current 760 MCS custodians. But more manager positions will be open through GCA. MCS custodians have the first right of refusal to the GCA jobs, as long as they pass a background check.

GCA pays a few dollars less per hour, amounting to a difference of several thousand dollars a year. They will also employ part-time workers within the 736 total, while MCS currently does not have part-time employees.

This intensified debate was steered into focus by Chairman Orgel, who had to remind the board that the decision to outsource had already been made at a previous meeting. This Thursday meeting was only to choose between GCA and Aramark.