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BREAKING NEWS

Letter to the editor

By Staff | Jun 6, 2008

To the EDN:

I attended the school board meeting Wednesday, May 28th that was held to approve the contract for the janitorial staff. Overall, it was a very good meeting and I personally felt there was real communication between the citizens who attended and the board members.

My concern is with the end of the meeting. During a discussion about community feedback and calls to board members about issues of concern, Mr. Don Schiltz discussed the “filthy” state of our schools and the poor job performance of the janitorial staff. Unfortunately, this ended up being a very one-sided presentation. There was no janitorial staff present to hear this commentary firsthand. The person ultimately responsible for the janitorial staff was NOT identified and the issue of how these employees are managed was also not addressed.

In most employment situations, one’s job performance expectations are clearly spelled out and non-compliance with those expectations usually results in a termination, or at the very least, a written document to record the sub-standard performance. Is there a clear record of the sub-standard performance per the job descriptions and expectations of the janitorial staff? The janitors are unionized, and most unions I have worked with in the past have very clear job descriptions and performance expectations. Were the specific performance issues addressed with the negotiations with the union officials and janitorial employees? Or was a hasty agreement made in an effort to calm the community?

No one in the community will argue if a public employee is not doing their job properly and needs to be disciplined or terminated from employment. However, presenting only part of the argument without looking at ALL sides of the situation is irresponsible at best, in my eyes.

This outsourcing concept was “pitched” to the public based on COST SAVINGS, not PERFORMANCE ISSUES. I confirmed at the meeting there was not a specific cost savings need at the present time. The school is working to contain costs in an environment that includes declining revenues and ever increasing expense. I applaud the district for being proactive on this issue rather than reactive. However, as a taxpayer, I would like to get “real” answer the first time and not feel like I have been deceived in the process rather than informed.

It sounds like our school board is willing to work towards solutions to the issues on the minds of the community. This is very much a good first step for us as a community. The district office has all of the rules concerning the board meetings and the staff is more than willing to answer questions from concerned citizens. I want nothing more than for our community and school district to resolve the differences we have and to ultimately restore the trust of the community in our school district.

Lisa Fernholz,

Estherville