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Schools sign new janitorial contract

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BY AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Monday, April 16, 2018

Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools now has a contract with a new janitorial service provider after spending more than a year trying to make the switch.

The Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education voted Thursday to approve a nearly $2.5 million contract with Beck Education Services to provide cleaning services for 37 buildings owned by the school district. The new contract will affect roughly 105 workers, including 63 full-time and 42 part-time employees.

“It took a year-and-a-half to extract ourselves from a company we did not feel met our needs,” said Dr. Shelton Jefferies, superintendent of Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools.

The school board voted in February to terminate the contract they had held with SSC Service Solutions for about four years.

According to the the termination document presented by the school board to SSC, several issues led to the contract termination. The document stated that an SSC manager had placed a custodial worker on a school campus without the required and contracted background checks, including criminal check, sex offender registry check or E-verify work authorization check, and was paying the individual “cash under the table.” The document also claims that the custodial company had been the cause of numerous complaints, primarily regarding lack of communication and the “failure to fill custodial staff vacancies within a reasonable time period.”

Some school board members said Thursday that they had also heard employees of SSC express concerns over lack of training and the poor quality of cleaning supplies provided.

Jefferies said he feels that the school district’s situation will improve under the new contract.

“While that review was underway, Beck’s reputation was impeccable when we were checking. We are encouraged that they value their employees. They take training and resources very seriously. So we are really encouraged about the opportunity for this new partnership,” Jefferies said.

Brian Miller, chief of staff at Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools, said the contract with Beck Education Services should improve conditions for the employees by providing regular pay increases and better benefits. According to the contract, the minimum pay rate for employees will be $8.25 an hour.

Miller said that employees who worked in the school district under the SSC contract are being hired by Beck Educational Services as long as they pass drug screens and background checks. The downside, Miller said, is that employees will have to begin to accrue vacation days and other benefits again under the new contract.

“We reached a decision point that these employees were SSC employees. We are simply making a transition in employers,” Jefferies explained to the school board. “We were encouraged by the increase in pay and benefits, but there are some transition points.”

Miller said the school board had set up information sessions with the janitorial staff to explain the transition and help staff members apply for employment with Beck.

Under the new contract, the school district also has the potential to save the district $85,000 to $90,000 annually and will gain new equipment for the district, Miller said.

The new contract terms apply only to contract employees, Jefferies said. Some employees that are still grand-fathered under the old terms as state employees have better state benefits. Jefferies said the school board has committed to letting those positions go through natural attrition.

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