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ELC approves custodial contract

By Staff | May 29, 2008

The Estherville Lincoln Central school board approved a 3.7 percent package increase on the 2008-09 custodial contract in a noon special session on Wednesday.

ELC superintendent Dick Magnuson said negotiations were different this year as talks were held directly with union officials instead of local custodial representatives.

The two-year agreement includes a 45-cent per hour raise and a minimumal increase in uniform allowance. It also includes a projected 5-percent increase in insurance costs, but Magnuson said those aren’t known yet.

“It could be higher. It could be lower,” he said.

The custodians have already ratified the agreement and the ELC board gave its unanimous approval.

Previously, the board had discussed the possiblity of contracting for custodial services with FBG Custodial Services of Omaha, Neb.

A work session had been scheduled for June 2 to discuss that possibility, but the board moved to cancel that meeting.

A handful of constituents were at Wednesday’s meeting.

Lisa Fernholßz said her biggest question was whether the district was contracting custodial services because the school needed to save money or wanted to save money. She cited the recent audit which showed the school district was in good condition.

Board treasurer Kate Woods said the school district has received no new money from the state the past few years and is always looking for ways to maintain costs.

“We go to these meetings with vendors that say they will save us money,” Woods said.

That’s how the process began to consider contracting custodial services.

“We don’t want to get in the spots that other school districts are in,” added board president Molly Anderson.

Board member Don Schiltz said another reason the board considered contracting services is because of complaints about dirty school buildings.

Specifically, he cited the condition of the women’s bathroom near the high school gym.

In her comments to the board, Amber Houge said it might benefit the school board to have a meeting with the public.

“There was was a lot of animosity when I was taking around a petition for the custodians,” she said. “It’d be good to have a day to answer some of the questions the community has.”

Magnuson said people haven’t come forth with other major issues, but noted they can request to put items on the regular school board agenda by calling the school board secretary.

In other action, the school board approved a 3.5 percent increase for support staff which includes bus drivers, teachers aides, technology personnel and administration excluding the superintendent.

A 4 percent increase was approved for secretaries and food service.

Magnuson explained that the increases were determined by looking at how other districts of similar size and those in the Lakes Conference pay staff.