Focus on Trash at Berkeley County Education Meeting | Berkeley Independent

Urgently needed child care for local schools was a topic of concern at the Berkeley County School Board’s special meeting on August 16, 2022. Board members and administrative staff discussed current issues regarding the lack day care services and possible short and long-term means of remedying the problem.

The special meeting was called by council chairman David Barrow after hearing reports from another member of calls and emails received from principals and parents in the school district who are concerned and frustrated with the lack of cleaning and the accumulation of garbage during school. daytime.

In a question at the last meeting, the Finance Committee had approved some outside child care, but the full Board had not yet approved the recommendation and the situation warranted a special meeting.

Conditions at Philip Simmons High School have been the subject of several reports. The school’s only member of the maintenance staff left last year, leaving no service during the day, creating an urgent situation.

“We then had a four-member cleaning crew from Daniel Island who came in the evenings, but still no service during the day,” said board member Mac McQuillin, who represents Philip Simmons students. “A news article over the weekend has parents reaching out and saying this is a real problem and they need our help.”

Teachers were instructed to collect and take out their own classroom waste. Teachers and administrators should clean up after meal times. Principals and other staff went over weekends and cleaned classrooms in preparation for the start of school.

“When the principal of a school reaches out to a board member, in my experience, they’ve usually exhausted their choices,” McQuillin said. “Our students, teachers and administrators deserve better. We must not only provide a safe environment, but also a clean environment. The district was contacted in January and then in March regarding this issue.

“There are several stipends for custodians at schools, but efforts to get company vendors on board have not been successful,” said school superintendent Deon Jackson. “Furthermore, although the board discussed this issue at its previous meeting and stipends exist, it did not specify emergency day care services – that was the intention, but the current company could not find the workforce.”

The district hired a new company to provide child care and advised it could start work on August 24, 2022. However, that left a gap. Board members have expressed interest in working with the company to get started as soon as possible.

McQuillin implored the council to find help for teachers and administrators in filling the void. “We may need more contractors, more suppliers, or re-bid for the job,” he said.

Several members noted that the emergencies surrounding custody issues are not limited to Philip Simmons – there are other schools throughout the district with similar issues.

Board member Michael Ramsey linked the difficulty of custodian companies finding sufficient labor with the need to consider a minimum wage of $15 per hour and encouraged the board to address this issue for the next budget exercise. “It’s a problem not just in our schools, but in all of our Lowcountry industries as a whole,” Ramsey said. “It’s a serious labor issue and another reason why we find ourselves in this situation at this point. As directors and officers, this is something we must take into account.

Speaking on behalf of the finance and capital planning committee, McQuillin reported that the committee met on August 9 and awarded RSG Solutions and Top Priority Maintenance Services, LLC an initial one-year contract to $175,000 with additional options for four one-year terms at $875,000. On the committee’s recommendation, McQuillin moved to approve this award for child care. The motion was approved.

The emergency contracts currently in place run until August 31 and are concluded with a third party company. The cleaning company which was due to start work on August 24 has been authorized through an emergency supply.

According to Marcie Abrahamson, director of procurement, two additional providers for child care have been identified and are very interested in working with the school district within the maximum fixed price offered. Their staff must be vetted before they can work in the schools.

The number of guards needed inside a school varies depending on the square footage and space of the classroom.

In discussing other possible solutions, Superintendent Jackson noted that there are opportunities for custodial staff from other schools and for custodial staff to perform maintenance work where there is a needed and that such staff could be compensated for overtime. “Maintenance is also an area where it’s difficult to fill vacancies, so we may displace employees and create understaffing in those departments,” Jackson warned.

Board Chairman Barrow reminded members that in the past bus drivers had agreed to take on guard roles and that this could be a solution in the future. Board Member Kirstin Tanner expressed her encouragement to parents wishing to follow volunteer procedures to help address this issue.

Abrahamson asked for clarification on the policy regarding authorizing the superintendent to approve fixed-term contract amounts that are budgeted and already approved by the board. She explained that the policy already exists, but it is customary to take these purchases and contracts to the Board of Directors due to the department’s hypervigilance and transparency. Purchases over $100,000 that correspond to a budgeted item may be approved by the Superintendent. It is not necessary to come back to the Council to find suppliers to provide these budgeted services.