School Considers Moving Cleaning Services Back In-House

A Virginia school district is considering bringing some services back in-house amid concerns that their schools aren't clean enough, according to an article on the Richmond Times-Dispatch website. Chesterfield County school leaders are working to bring at least some of their custodial services back in-house.

The shift back to at least some in-house custodial service would include 150 day-time custodians, in addition to outsourcing after-school cleaning to several contractors. According to reports, the change would raise the division budget by millions or dollars.

It is unclear whether the recommended plan would immediately bring the facilities up to ideal standards, but school officials say they still feel something must be done. In the past two years, the district has charged the current contractor more than $400,000 in penalties for not meeting contracted levels of clean.

“Our current contractor is not consistently meeting the level of cleanliness as required in the contract,” Nita Mensia-Joseph, Chesterfield schools’ chief operating officer, said in the article.

For instance, a sweep of schools just before classes began this fall revealed that many facilities weren’t clean enough. Chesterfield schools launched a cleaning blitz of their own. They later sent the bill for that work to the outside contractor, Tennessee-based SSC.

SSC’s contract requires the company to meet the second-highest standard from the Association of Physical Plant Administrators (APPA) cleaning guidelines, which is defined as “ordinary tidiness.”

In a letter to school officials, SSC described a deteriorating and adversarial relationship with Chesterfield schools. In fact, just before school started for the year, the building service contractor reported that cleaning crews were constantly interrupted by school staff and that there was a faulty inspection system in place to review cleaning progress.

Read the full article here.