The Columbia School Board met for a special session Thursday morning.
The board heard a presentation from CPS’s Director of Custodial Services Department, Mike Jones, reviewing the custodial program.
Much of the presentation was about the changes Jones has implemented since August of 2014. But it also highlighted the high turnover rate CPS has experienced with their custodial employees since August of 2015.
From August 2015 through March of 2016, 62 custodial employees left CPS. That’s about a 42 percent turnover.
According Jones, of the 62 that left, 21 were terminated. 17 received better jobs and 24 left for personal reasons. Jones said many of the employees that left for better jobs oftentimes don’t take into account the benefits package that comes from CPS, instead taking a job elsewhere that pays 50 center to two-dollars more per hour. Jones also said the number of people leaving for personal reasons was “unusual”.
He also said 46 CPS custodial employees have been with the district for less than one year, and the district is short 2.5 full-time employees and four substitutes.
Part of the presentation is also addressed challenging employees. Instead of moving an employee to a different school for being late or not keeping up with work, Jones says they will send a trainer to the employee to help them re-train.
Some of the changes Jones has started has been to include principals in the hiring process. Jones says the relationship with the head custodian and the principal is an important one. The principal, he says, is in charge of the building and needs to be able to work cooperatively with the custodial staff.
Jones also says its nearly impossible to tell in an interview if someone will be a good employee so he starts new hires as substitutes on a part-time basis before deciding to move them to full-time.
Jones has also implemented a cleaning system that’s aimed at increasing health and cleanliness in the classrooms. The custodians follow a four-step process on cleaning and sanitizing. He also says this allows for more consistency across the district since every classroom in every school is being cleaned the same way everyday.
This process allows his staff to clean 10-thousand square-feet above the national average. CPS removing trailers from schools has also made his staff more efficient.
Through attrition, Jones has reduced the number of full-time employees from 146 in 2014-15 to 136.5 in 2015-16. He also had four floating and substitute employees and two trainers on staff. In 2014-15, there were zero substitutes, floaters, or trainers.
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