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School Board Hires Private Company for Custodial Work

St. Louis Board of Education building (KWMU photo)

By Kevin Lavery, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – The St. Louis School Board Tuesday night voted to outsource more than 100 maintenance jobs to a private company.

The district awarded a five-year, $55 million contract to Sodexho, Inc. to perform custodial and groundskeeping jobs. Sodexho also underwrites National Public Radio.

School officials say it's a cost-cutting move that will save the district nearly $6 million a year.

But soon-to-be-displaced workers like Robert Kneib, an eight-year district employee, say they can do the work for less. "They haven't the foggiest idea what they're getting into when it comes to construction, because these schools are 100 years old," he said. "And we know how they're constructed. And we also know how the subcontractors work. We often have to go back over their jobs to do it right."

The contract keeps 330 current custodians on the district payroll.

While some have accused the board of excluding the public from the decision, president Darnetta Clinkscale says outsourcing has been on the table since August.

"Since then, there's been continuous discussions, and one of the issues that did come up was how do we maintain our custodians? And we have been able to do that," she said.

Board members Bill Haas and Rochelle Moore voted against the contract.


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