Kennett school officials agree to outsource vacant custodial positions

Kennett Square >> With some reservations, the Kennett school board has moved to use an outside agency to staff stubbornly vacant custodial positions.

The Kennett Consolidated School District board members voted unanimously at their monthly meeting Monday night to enter an agreement arranged through the Chester County Intermediate Unit to use Servicemaster, a large custodial service provider, to fill some of the district’s unfilled custodial positions.

The district currently has five openings in its custodial department, and district officials say the normal methods of filling them have yielded very few applications and none they saw as appropriate for the roles. They speculated that companies like Servicemaster may have absorbed all the candidates available.

The board members stressed in this and previous meetings that this is a way to fill long-term vacancies, and there is no intention of laying off existing staff or outsourcing the entire department.

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The plan is to use Servicemaster in a one-year pilot program, filling three vacancies at Greenwood Elementary School. After questions from some board members, the board as a whole stipulated that the district was free to hire new custodians itself at any time if appropriate candidates applied and the board would have a chance to discuss any move to extend the pilot program to schools other than Greenwood.

Mark Tracy, assistant to the superintendent for business affairs, said he was confident the move would help to relieve the district’s problems with staffing the custodial services.

The board members also approved a request for students and parents to attend Latino Exploration Day at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania April 6 and 7. The program helps Latino students learn about the opportunities available to them as they plan their future educational careers.

The board approved a request by Brittany Schiavo, a master’s degree candidate at West Chester University, to do a student research project at the high school. The project involves observing three students identified with emotional disturbance before and after they work with “social stories.”

Schiavo said social stories are a way to use fictional characters to discuss various types of situations and behavior the students might experience and engage in. Rather than having to talk about their own behavior, the students can take a more objective view of the character’s responses and discuss whether they were appropriate or not.

Kennett High’s robotics team was approved to travel to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship at Lehigh University April 5-7.

The board members unanimously approved a letter to state legislators and officials objecting to Senate Bill 2, which would redirect a portion of state funding to non-public schools in what board member Aline Frank said was effectively a voucher program that would diminish the funding available to public school districts.

The board also approved summer programs for 2018.