During the special called meeting of the Cleburne ISD Board of Trustees Thursday, board members discussed the fate of some of the district’s custodians.

Officials first looked into outsourcing all of their custodians, but after calculating the numbers, decided to instead switch some custodians to a night shift and to let others go. The move would save the district $250,000 and protect contracted employees under the teacher retirement system, which outsourced employees would not benefit from.

Gary Buckingham, executive director of district operations, addressed the board about cutting hours and positions. But not before he praised the custodial staff for “an incredible job this summer.”  

Buckingham said other school districts have already moved their custodial staffs to evening shifts and have reported that it’s more efficient for their employees to work later hours.

Board member MJ Larrison had immediate concerns of extra electricity use with custodians in the buildings late at night. Buckingham said sections of each building will be on at a given time; an increase in electricity cost is generally not expected.

Buckingham also addressed the concern of several board members who spoke up, concerned that custodians won’t work as hard or clean as thoroughly when confronted with a shortage of working hands. There was also concern for lack of oversight, which board members felt might encourage custodians from following all sanitary procedures.

Buckingham said he will personally frequent the schools on a monthly basis, check in with principals and evaluate the cleanliness of each campus.

Under the new schedules, principals will be required to meet with the custodial staff each week — something they are already supposed to do — and examine every corner of the school. Buckingham said there should be no oversights with so many checks on the staff.

Extensive checklists are part of enforcing expectations of clean campuses.

“Chrome is shined,” reads the first item on the “Student/Public Restrooms” checklist. All light fixtures on campuses are expected to be “burning and clean.” All corners are to be swept. Each task has two boxes next to it: acceptable or unacceptable, along with a space to write notes.

Buckingham also plans to visit campus at random. His findings will be collected and shared with the school principals and Superintendent Dr. Tim Miller.

Elementary schools have three full-time and one half-time custodian. Half-time employees will be let go, and full-time employees’ schedules will change. One custodian will open and two will close the campus. Before the change, two custodians opened and one closed.

“They’ve all stepped up to the plate,” Buckingham said.

He said the custodians all realize their positions are on the line. Seniority will not rule when it comes to cuts. The cuts will be strictly based on performance.

The high school will lose two of its 14 custodians.

Smith and Wheat middle schools will each lose one full-time custodian.

Child Nutrition Services personnel will be expected to assist the elementary campuses with cleaning each day, including trash pick up after lunch. Board members briefly discussed giving those employees up to a 25 cent per hour raise for the extra work. Those employees are among the lowest-paid in the district.

CISD plans to start the school year with all employees. Cuts and changes will begin the week of Sept. 5.

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