Schools custodial staff cleans up on review

Keeping hallways free of debris, tables wiped, and trash cans emptied may sound like a thankless job, but a recent study shows Jefferson Local custodians are not only doing it right, they are doing it efficiently.

Jack Conrad, an Ohio State University instructor and former superintendent, conducted a custodial staffing study and presented the results to the school board during a Nov. 12 meeting. The researcher evaluated current staff levels, compared Jefferson Local’s statistics against similar districts like Logan Elm, and then analyzed how the information affected the school district’s staffing.

"My objective is to meet and gather information until I haven’t heard anything new," said Conrad. "Through meetings, interviews, questionnaires, and district visits on several occasions, I analyze the data and create the report.

"I didn’t target anyone; I just talked with people casually to get a feel for the level of cleanliness," he continued. "I looked at comparable school districts and tried to find a variety with similar incomes. What I discovered is that you are spending significantly lower for operations than other districts. I think that’s pretty good. You are getting a pretty good return for you dollar and I know what school operations look like.

"Jefferson Local has a lot of square footage per custodial hour, and you use a lot of your building space. It’s a pretty significant number. When I look at numbers across the state, I see, on average, 250 to 280 custodial hours per teacher. In Jefferson Local, it’s 217 custodial hours per teacher."

During his concluding remarks, Conrad pointed out the district has lower-than-average custodial staff ratios and noted he did not see or hear of any concerns regarding a lack of efficiency. He told board members a net custodial staff increase of 16.5 percent would bring the district up to an average ratio. The study was referred back to the board for further consideration.

In other presentations, Village of West Jefferson law director Ron Parsons updated board members and administrators on a recent Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) ruling regarding the I-70 and Route 29 corridor. Parsons said ODOT told the village the corridor needs an upgrade, but the transportation department won’t pay for construction.

"The state came in about a month ago and said they’re not going to pay a dime of it. The quicker we get it done, the better off we’ll be," Parsons said.

The village is considering extending a 15-year Tax Increment Financing package to 30 years in order to finance the roadwork. Parsons asked the school board to consider granting a Waiver of Notice for meetings related to the proposal, since the district receives taxes from the TIF.

"We feel it really benefits the schools," he said regarding the change from a 15- to a 30-year period. "As the plan unfolds, you’re better off than through tax abatements."

Superintendent William Mullett said that because the millage for the district is applied to the TIF, Jefferson Local would get all of its funding off the top. He said the amount is adjusted annually, and at the end of 15 years, the change proposed by the village would be more advantageous for the district.

"The 16th year is when you really start making the money (if the development build-out is complete)," added Parsons.

Construction is complete throughout the district, but a lingering conflict could find the district in court as a partner in a lawsuit against Dorcy. Mullett said he received a letter from Bovis Lend Lease representative Clay Keith stating there is still an outstanding issue to resolve with Dorcy regarding deductive change orders and false allegations. In his correspondence, Keith said the district could potentially go after $550,000 in liquidated damages against the company.

"If we go to court, make sure we get every dime of liquidations," said Board President Bob Barton Jr.

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