The financial straits that’s forcing the district to cut programs and services could claim the jobs of 35 to 40 city residents as the district moves to reduce its custodians contract with Temco Service Industries by as much as $1.5 million, according to school officials and the union that represents the custodians.
Thomas Giblin, business manager for Operating Engineers Local 68 which represents the custodians, who are employed by New York City-based Temco Service Industries but work at the district, said the district issued a directive to the company to reduce the $10.4 million contract for the upcoming school year by $1.5 million.
“That translates to 35 to 40 people,” said Giblin. “Most of them live in Paterson. A lot of them walk to work.”
Giblin said the district has been told the reduction will adversely impact the cleanliness of the schools. “The level of service will deteriorate as far as cleanliness of the schools. They said they can’t do it for what they are asking,” he said.
The company provides the district with 226 custodians, according to sources.
For example, John F. Kennedy High School has 11 custodians who maintain the building at present which will drop to 9. “How will 9 people clean-up when 11 people had difficulty?” said a custodian who did not wish to be identified. The district has 47 chiefs of custodians on its payroll who supervise the workers provided by the company.
A representative from Temco Service Industries did not return a call for comment on Monday morning.
“I wanted them to do a cost benefit analysis to see if we could bring it in-house,” said Flavio Rivera, school board member, who serves as the chairman of the fiscal and facilities committees. “If we don’t save $1.5 million from there then it’s going to cost jobs in other places. I’m not too happy about that.”
Rivera said he asked the administration to conduct a cost-benefit analysis last year, but the district decided against it. He thought the contract with the company was overpriced if the vendor could cut $1.5 million.
Giblin said the company likely agreed with the district’s directive to preserve its contract. He and custodians have said the contract reduction which will result in diminished manpower will negatively impact services.
The district had a $9.9 million contract with the firm in 2014. The next year, the contract was increased to $10.4 million, according to district records.
District spokeswoman Terry Corallo said the school system is still working out the details of the contract.
The district this year had to grapple with a $45 million budget shortfall which was closed through deep cuts in programs and layoffs. The district cut 101 positions and increased taxes on homeowners by 6.4-percent to balance its budget.
Giblin said there’s talks of reducing hours for the custodians some of whom make $11 or so an hour. “They are not making big money,” he said. He said there’s very little opportunities out there for the custodians who may be axed.
Paterson’s high unemployment rate of 9.4-percent or twice the state average never helps.
The district privatized custodial services more than a decade ago prior to that the custodians worked directly for the public schools.
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