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Schools consider custodial service
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The DeKalb County Board of Education is discussing contracting with an outside company for the school system’s janitorial services.

Agents of Cleveland, Ohio-based GCA Services Group came before the board members with a proposal last week to clean local schools for $400,000 the first year, with annual renewal options for up to five years Current custodial staff would be hired by GCA on the recommendation of the school principals. The company would assume all custodial responsibilities, including providing supplies, paper goods and cleaning equipment.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby said the partnership could save the school system as much as $50,000 per year.

GCA Senior Sales Director Craig Colquitt said the company would retrain the current custodial staff, provide health insurance and benefits.

"We are in 35 school districts in this state and in 250 school districts across the country. We consider ourselves allies, partners. We know your current concerns are for your principals, teachers, and your employees," he told the board,

"One thing we do when we come into a district is that we talk to the principals first and foremost. Any of these employees who are doing a good job, we want on our team. We need your employees. We want to train them. We know how important it is to hire locally, and to give these people a chance to move forward," said Senior Regional Manager Josh Helton.

Sales Director Adam Miles said GCA also offers opportunities to move up in the company.

"We provide upward mobility and promotions. We’re in a lot of districts so if there are people here who are capable of doing more, we want to give them that opportunity if they want it to move up into a managerial position and even further," Miles shared.

GCA would also be responsible for after school activity cleanup and the outside of buildings. "All school related activities, ball games, PTO events, board meetings, we’ll be there to clean up before and after and take care of things. In addition to the cleaning inside of the buildings, we will patrol the perimeter within twenty five feet of the school and clean up trash and debris", Miles said.

Miles said principals would still have input with GCA in charge of custodial duties.

"If principals are concerned that they will lose control of their building if they are not calling the shots, that’s the furthest thing from the truth. They are what makes this thing works. Every day, we’ll check in with them, especially the first quarter or so and make sure they have what they need and are happy. We would have a designated account manager, a direct contact for all principals and the day porters and night crews at each school will have a supervisor over them," Miles assured the assembly.

Sixth District board member Doug Stephens wanted to know how GCA’s plan could manage to save the system so much money.

"What you presented is very impressive, but what I can’t understand is how can we either be so bad, or you so good, that you can save us $50,000 a year," Stephens wondered.

"Purchasing power," Helton replied "All equipment, training and consumables are provided by us, and we’re getting our equipment and consumables at a much lower rate than you can. All those costs to you we’ll absorb, including insurance, benefits, and workman’s comp,"

"We keep our workman’s comp costs down with proper training, equipment, education, and supplies. If we are stripping and waxing a floor. They’re going to be in glasses and stripper shoes. We want them to go home the same way they arrived. Anything less than that on our part is unacceptable," Miles offered.

"Part of the savings on equipment is coming from the fact that we’re buying the equipment full price but we’re negotiating that. We’re getting a better price than you do. You’ll buy it at full cash price. We’ll depreciate that over five years. If we don’t maintain the contract for five years we’re out. So it behooves us to keep it for five years because we’ve bought new equipment and depreciated it over that period of time. That’s part of the savings. With 36,000 employees, we can negotiate on any kind of supply with our buying power," Colquitt added.

"We can offer you a significant savings from what you’re spending in house while inheriting all of your recommended employees," Miles said "We have the leadership that is ready to go. We’ve got the turn key service, if you want us in here we can take care of you from start to finish, from unlocking the building to locking the building and everything in between. We’re here. If you need us, you call us, even if it’s an emergency in the middle of the night. We want to be a partner. We want to take care of the buildings. We want to be proud of it because we want the students and the staff to show up and say this building looks great. It’s simple and easy, which is what the principals like the most."

First District board member John David Foutch wanted more information about GCA’s plan for health insurance.

"I am interested in the employees insurance compared to what ours are paying now, whether it’s comparable. If it’s way out of line, it’s not being fair to the people who have been loyal to us. I think they have done a good job, and lot of them work just for the insurance," Foutch said.

"All the insurance they currently have, we offer," Miles replied. "Insurance costs will vary based upon packages offered but we have multiple packages including major medical and dental, and they can retrofit it however they see fit. We work with United Healthcare and Humana. United offers a Bronze, Silver, and Gold plan."

While no action was taken at the regular meeting Thursday night, Board Chairman Johnny Lattimore asked GCA to provide more information at special meeting called for last night, July 15, where a final decision was to be made.

GCA Services Group, Inc. has more than 34,000 employees in the 48 states it operates in, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The company provides janitorial/custodial services, contamination control for cleanroom manufacturing, facilities operations and maintenance, grounds management, in-sourced production staffing and labor management, diversified staffing, and more.