Peekskill Officials Mull Outsourcing School Custodians

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Peekskill School Board President Joseph Urbanowicz, left, discusses custodial needs with Michael Simpkins, Colin Smith and Greg Sullivan. Photo Credit: Art Cusano

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. – Being a school custodian can be a dirty job, but in Peekskill, it may soon be an outsourced one as well.

As custodial staff members leave or retire, the district is allowed under it’s most recent union contract to either replace them internally or outsource the work to a third party, at a potential large saving to the district, according to district officials.

Board of Education members were presented with cost figures of both options Tuesday night that were not immediately made available to the public, but Superintendent of Schools James Willis said the prices quoted to the district by an outside custodial agency was a “significant savings” over what the district paid its custodial staff.

“I didn’t think these numbers would be this big, this wide apart,” said Assistant Superintendent for Business and Administrative Services Greg Sullivan.

School Board President Joseph Urbanowicz said that, in the Ardsley district where he is a facilities manager, such a system saved a lot of money for the district. He said the Peekskill district was not looking to replace the current staff with outsourcing, but could save significant money on future staff.

The district could hire one third-party janitorial employee at a time to work with existing staff, he added. Such an arrangement could be useful as the district reopens Uriah Hill Elementary School next fall for pre-kindergarten classes and possible BOCES programs.

“That’s another service we’re going to need in addition to one position we have a need for in another building,” Urbanowicz said.

Normally, new custodial staff would be taken from recommended substitute employees being used by the district, Willis said.

School Board Vice President Michael Simpkins said he was hesitant to replace quality district staff with outside employees.  

“We have some very dedicated workers here who have worked hard to prepare our schools and have done an outstanding job, and if it weren’t for them we couldn’t open school on time,” Simpkins said. “They’ve made a lot of sacrifices in working with us as a board in negotiations on contracts.”

However, Urbanowicz told Simpkins the outsourcing would only affect open positions that need to be filled.

“Nobody who works here is going to be impacted.” Urbanowicz said.

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