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Private company will clean Saugus schools

SAUGUS — Lynn-based Complete Cleaning Company, Inc. has taken over the custodial duties of the Saugus Public Schools.

The private company was awarded a one-year, $664,000 contract to clean four elementary schools, the high school, Belmonte Middle School and the Roby Administration Building effective July 1.

The contract for the district’s 21 custodians, who had an average 17 years of experience, expired on June 30. They learned they would lose their jobs through a notice distributed on June 18.

In a statement, Superintendent David DeRuosi said replacing the custodians with a private company saves the district about $1.1 million per year. 

“The School Department is making these decisions, through this sometimes-challenging period of reconfiguration, in the best interest of the students of Saugus,” he said in June. 

The money will instead be used to implement language, science and technology curriculum, said DeRuosi. 

On June 26, in a five-minute public meeting that followed a three-hour executive session, the panel voted, 3-2, to outsource custodial duties of the public schools with a private cleaning company. Members Lisa Morgante and Liz Marchese voted against the change. Marc Magliozzi, Jeannie Meredith and Linda Gaieski voted in favor. 

Meredith, chairwoman of the School Committee, said that the vote was “to reiterate the original motion made on May 8.”

Marchese and Morgante said on May 8 they believed they were voting to gather more information about the custodial bids received by the department. Afterwards, however, they became concerned that the vote actually terminated the union contract.  

A secretary was not present at the executive session when a vote was taken, said Marchese. Because of that, she said she did not believe anyone took notes for meeting minutes or recorded the wording of the vote taken.

In the wake of this, six Open Meeting Law complaints were filed against the committee calling on the action to be invalidated. 

“I believe that decisions to privatize the jobs of 21 town custodians who work in the Saugus Public Schools was done in private and without public discourse,” said Fairview Avenue resident Ryan Moore in a complaint filed June 19. “This process should have required a public meeting and vote, but that was not done by the Saugus School Committee.”

The contract, which was obtained by The Item on July 23, was signed by DeRuosi on June 3. The Item filed a formal Freedom of Information Act request for the contract on July 12.

The contract with Complete Cleaning will expire in one year but can be extended by up to two additional one-year periods. Nothing requires the district to agree to extend the contract beyond the initial one-year term, according to the document.

A new $160 million, 270,000-square-foot middle-high school is expected to be completed by 2020. 

 

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