A concern raised about custodial services at Eisenhower Middle High School turned into a discussion about contractual problems with support staff during Monday night's meeting of the Warren County School District's board of directors.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Dot Knapp told the board that she became aware that there are only two janitors currently cleaning the entire Eisenhower facility in the evening.
"Education is very important to me," she said. "Health is going to be in jeopardy because we can't afford to keep our schools clean. The district is not keeping our buildings clean because the almighty dollar comes first."
The situation is “putting us in trouble for cleaning buildings.”
Superintendent Brandon Hufnagel
Superintendent Brandon Hufnagel responded that there are currently four full-time janitors at Eisenhower one during the day and three in the evening. However, he noted that one retired on Oct. 5 and the position is in the process of being filled.
He explained that the district "can't control the number of days that employees are taking off in which we can't fill the position," noting that the district "does not have the base" to fill each position when people take time off.
The situation is "putting us in trouble for cleaning buildings," he added. "We have employees that are utilizing their sick and personal time and not coming to work and that is the problem."
He said that if substitutes were used to fill all the shifts available, the district would "blow through the sub-budget in a minute...The biggest part of the problem is the number of days they are taking."
He explained that the district is working with the union to potentially develop an incentive program for not taking days off. "Until we have that fixed, there's not a lot we can do," he said. "They're employed. They need to come to work."
"We have to keep an eye on it," board member Tom Knapp said. 'I want to compliment them as far as the grounds upkeep" at Eisenhower.
"It's not every support staff," Hufnagel clarified, "but we do have support staff that are abusing the sick time."
Amy Stewart, the district's director of administrative support services, said that she is meeting with the custodial managers monthly and noted that the "contract is causing part of the problem," because the posting guidelines do not allow the district to fill the positions quickly. The openings "tend to stack up," she said.
"It is my concern about no subs being allowed to sub when a janitor is off," Dot Knapp said at the conclusion of the meeting. "I have a house full of five people and my house can be a pretty big mess," she explained, let alone a school that houses 500 students.