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School Committee Ponies Up for Cleaner Buildings

September 19, 2018

LOWELL -- Since the start of the school year, custodians have been receiving overtime to clean the new Day School location in Chelmsford.

However, a vote by the Lowell School Committee during a special meeting last week will install a more permanent solution, costing the district $14,000 after a $50,000 offset from the city.

The option recommended by the district and and selected by the School Committee would pay $29,000 for the cleaning service at the Day School, which serves children with autism. This number is the lowest of several quotes obtained by the Daley Group, the owner of the building, according to Interim Assistant Superintendent of Finance Billie Jo Turner.

This is more expensive than paying the district’s own custodians overtime, which would cost $23,069, according to district estimates.

District Operations and Maintenance Director Rick Underwood said due to contractual obligations, the overtime option would require the district to cycle through it’s over 90 custodians for services, meaning little consistency in the cleaning of the building.

In addition to the contracted service for the Day School, the option selected by the School Committee would reconfigure cleaning for two other buildings: the central offices and Rogers School.

Underwood said the district’s former Chief Financial Officer Gary Frisch opted for part-time, not full-time, custodians for these two buildings. The current custodian for the 45,000-square-foot central office has been struggling to keep up with the workload, Underwood said.

Under the plan approved by the committee, cleaning the central offices will be contracted out to Advantage Plus for $35,000 and the part-time central office custodian will be moved to the Rogers School.

“Although it’s an added cost, it really gives us a lot for our buck,” Underwood said. “It corrects, in my opinion, two wrongs.”

Together these changes would cost $64,000, however Underwood said the city has agreed to pay the district $50,000, reimbursing the district for the share it paid for an abatement project at Reilly Elementary School. The net cost to the district this fiscal year would be $14,000, according to Turner.

At the same meeting last Wednesday, Frederick McOsker, formerly the Morey School Principal, was named Acting Assistant Superintendent for Student Support Services.

Acting Superintendent of Schools Jeannine Durkin said McOsker agreed to take the role until December at the same pay, which is $124,548, according to this fiscal year’s budget.

McOsker will replace Mary Payne, who took the role when Durkin vacated the position after being named Acting Superintendent. Payne provided notice of her decision on Aug. 24 and resumed her earlier position of District Support Specialist, according to Durkin.

Durkin said she was unable to give the reason why Payne stepped down from her role.

In late August, Kathleen McLaughlin was named principal of the Morey School.

Follow Elizabeth Dobbins on Twitter @ElizDobbins

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