Skip to main content

Avon Grove finalizes decision to contract out custodial services

05/27/2014 03:21PM, Published by ACL, Categories: In Print, Schools



By Steven Hoffman

Staff Writer

The vote was unanimous but hardly easy.

The Avon Grove School Board unanimously voted last week to furlough 26 members of the district's custodial staff, the final step in a process to contract out the custodial services. Avon Grove is joining a growing list of local school districts that are partnering with the Chester County Intermediate Unit for facilities management and custodial operations, and is expected to see about $700,000 in savings annually as a result.

The furloughs are effective at the close of business on June 30.

Dozens of people crowded into school board meeting on May 22, many of whom expressed their concerns about the district's decision to furlough the custodial staff. Before they had their say, school board president Brian Gaerity explained the difficult—but in the board's view necessary—decision.

 “The board and the administration have been working on the 2014-15 budget since the beginning of the year,” Gaerity explained. “Our overarching goals for the budget are to ensure adequate resources to improve student achievement, ensure our facilities are secure and in good working order, and control costs without compromising quality or integrity. One of our guiding principles has been to put as much 'on the table' as possible so that we can see all the options available to us. Subcontracting custodial services is one option we have considered and are acting upon.”

Gaerity noted that the district will be saving $700,000 annually by contracting out the services. All the custodial staff members will be offered employment with the company that is taking over the custodial operations.

Approximately a dozen people in the large crowd spoke in favor of keeping the custodial operations in-house and protecting the jobs of longtime employees.

Nancy Ziglar, a New London Township resident said that the men and women who comprise the custodial staff are loyal employees and many of them live locally and pay taxes to the school district.

“Many of these men and women have worked 15 or 25 years or more,” she said. “Many are at an age where finding employment will be very difficult, especially in today's market. Some have families to support.”

Another resident said that while the furloughed custodial staff may get job offers with the company the district is contracting with, those jobs will come with smaller salaries and fewer benefits.

A woman in the audience said that the custodial staff helps students and plays a part in creating a safe and welcoming environment for students.

A teachers' aide in the district talked about how the custodians were willing to help out in any way possible.

 “The custodians treat everyone equal,” she said. “They were right there for anything that is needed.”

Bobby Fulton, a custodian for 28 years, said that the district will be losing good employees by making the decision to contract out the positions.

“We work hard and we love the children,” he said. “You can’t buy love.”

Fulton thanked the people who showed up at the meeting for their support.

At the conclusion of the public comment, the board continued with the agenda, which included the vote on eliminating the job classifications and furloughing the custodial staff. Before the vote was taken, Gaerity explained his position on the issue, and addressed some of the concerns that had been raised by audience members.

“I have read all the letters and emails sent to me regarding custodial services and have shared these messages with other members of the board,” he said. “I have listened to everyone who spoke on behalf of the custodians tonight. I have seriously considered the arguments, which can be put into three general buckets: One, that subcontractors would provide inferior service simply because they aren't district employees; two, that our kids would be put at risk because non-district personnel will be in the schools; and three, that we can find other ways to save money, or that the savings don't justify the elimination of jobs.

“For me, the first two arguments are less of a concern,” Gaerity continued. “Today, most of our students ride in buses owned by, driven by and serviced by for-profit companies and their employees. In other words, our transportation system is completely subcontracted. To imply that these bus drivers are unprofessional or would deliberately under-perform or put our children at risk is simply unfair and incorrect. I expect the same high levels of service, commitment, and safety from the sub-contracted custodians.”

Gaerity continued: “The projected savings by subcontracting custodial services is estimated to be $700,000 per year, which is equivalent to a 1.4 percent tax increase. That's a lot of money. Does it justify the elimination of jobs? In my mind, it does. Because those savings will help pay for greatly needed programs and personnel that will directly help our students.

“As a board, we have an obligation to consider all options that we believe will increase student achievement, control costs, or both. We would be imprudent to do otherwise. Some of our decisions will be easy, and some will be very difficult. But all decisions involve trade-offs. What don't we fund when we fund something else. Our revenues are not keeping pace with expenses. We have to control costs as much as possible, without losing quality. That's always a balance and there will always be some risk. 

“I believe the decision to subcontract is best for the district as a whole, and therefore I will vote for this motion.”

The board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

While the decision was a difficult one, board members were also convinced that it was the necessary one at this time.

Gaerity said that the unanimous support for the decision “means that nine board members have seen the value in this action. We are charged with making decisions that are in the best interest of the entire district.”

Custodial staff members were understandably upset following the meeting.

Michael Martin shared that he has been working extra hard to get the building back in shape since being named as the head custodian at the Penn London Elementary School. Martin has been employed with the district for 12 years.

“It's sad for us,” added Lori Hammer, a 20-year employee. “I put a lot of hard work and dedication into this.”


Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Chester County's free newsletter to catch every headline



avon grove school board avon grove school district chester county intermediate unit


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Le Petit Yogi (ages 2-6)

    05/25/2016
    11:30AM — 12:30PM

    Stretch into a five-point star, roll down into a pumpkin pose, take your “dogs” for a walk, and r...


  • Leaf Imprinted Ceramic Vessel

    05/25/2016
    12:00PM — 04:00PM

    Create a nature-inspired vessel (vase or bowl) using foliage from our native trees as the design ...


  • Yoga

    05/25/2016
    05:00PM — 06:00PM

    Increase your range of motion, core body strength, and flexibility through the practice of yoga i...


  • Yoga

    05/25/2016
    05:00PM — 06:00PM

    Increase your range of motion, core body strength, and flexibility through the practice of yoga i...


  • Pajama Storytime

    05/25/2016
    06:30PM — 07:30PM

    Wednesdays at 6:30 PM - Join us for an evening of stories, songs, crafts, and fun to end your day...


  • Pro-Act's Family Education Program

    05/25/2016
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    When someone is addicted to drugs & alcohol, the diease affects the entire family. Each month PR...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Drop in on Nature

    05/26/2016
    09:30AM — 12:00PM

    oin TLC for our Drop-In on Nature Playgroup! This program is designed for children 0-Kindergarten...


  • Native Shrubs for Home Gardens

    05/26/2016
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Birds, insects, and a host of other fauna rely on the natural resources supplied by our native sh...


  • False Indigo - True Beauty

    05/26/2016
    01:00PM — 03:00PM

    False indigo (Baptisia spp.) is a great plant for the sunny border and has a broad range of flowe...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    05/26/2016
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • Flags for Heroes

    05/26/2016
    06:00PM

    Please support our local fundraiser Flags for Heroes which honors heroes in our community and fam...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Fitness Walks

    05/27/2016
    08:30AM — 09:30AM

    Enjoy the natural beauty of Mt. Cuba Center's gardens, forests, and meadows this spring and exper...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Children’s I-Spy Birding

    05/28/2016
    09:00AM — 10:30AM

    The last Saturday of the month from 9am-10:30am. Join local birding expert and environmental edu...


  • Herp Search

    05/28/2016
    02:00PM — 04:00PM

    With Gary Stolz, Naturalist Saturday, May 28th from 2:00PM-4:00PM Location: Bucktoe Creek Prese...


  • Brad and Dad Duo At Kreutz Creek

    05/28/2016
    07:00PM — 10:00PM

    Come join us for a night of wine and Music May 28th at the Kreutz Creek Wine Tasting Room in West...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Debtors Anonymous

    05/30/2016
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    In D.A., our purpose is threefold: to stop incurring unsecured debt, to share our experience wit...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Le Petit Yogi (ages 2-6)

    05/25/2016
    11:30AM — 12:30PM

    Stretch into a five-point star, roll down into a pumpkin pose, take your “dogs” for a walk, and r...


  • Leaf Imprinted Ceramic Vessel

    05/25/2016
    12:00PM — 04:00PM

    Create a nature-inspired vessel (vase or bowl) using foliage from our native trees as the design ...


  • Yoga

    05/25/2016
    05:00PM — 06:00PM

    Increase your range of motion, core body strength, and flexibility through the practice of yoga i...


  • Yoga

    05/25/2016
    05:00PM — 06:00PM

    Increase your range of motion, core body strength, and flexibility through the practice of yoga i...


  • Pajama Storytime

    05/25/2016
    06:30PM — 07:30PM

    Wednesdays at 6:30 PM - Join us for an evening of stories, songs, crafts, and fun to end your day...


  • Pro-Act's Family Education Program

    05/25/2016
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    When someone is addicted to drugs & alcohol, the diease affects the entire family. Each month PR...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Drop in on Nature

    05/26/2016
    09:30AM — 12:00PM

    oin TLC for our Drop-In on Nature Playgroup! This program is designed for children 0-Kindergarten...


  • Native Shrubs for Home Gardens

    05/26/2016
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Birds, insects, and a host of other fauna rely on the natural resources supplied by our native sh...


  • False Indigo - True Beauty

    05/26/2016
    01:00PM — 03:00PM

    False indigo (Baptisia spp.) is a great plant for the sunny border and has a broad range of flowe...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    05/26/2016
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • Flags for Heroes

    05/26/2016
    06:00PM

    Please support our local fundraiser Flags for Heroes which honors heroes in our community and fam...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Fitness Walks

    05/27/2016
    08:30AM — 09:30AM

    Enjoy the natural beauty of Mt. Cuba Center's gardens, forests, and meadows this spring and exper...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Children’s I-Spy Birding

    05/28/2016
    09:00AM — 10:30AM

    The last Saturday of the month from 9am-10:30am. Join local birding expert and environmental edu...


  • Herp Search

    05/28/2016
    02:00PM — 04:00PM

    With Gary Stolz, Naturalist Saturday, May 28th from 2:00PM-4:00PM Location: Bucktoe Creek Prese...


  • Brad and Dad Duo At Kreutz Creek

    05/28/2016
    07:00PM — 10:00PM

    Come join us for a night of wine and Music May 28th at the Kreutz Creek Wine Tasting Room in West...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Downingtown Fine Arts Festival

    05/29/2016
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    The work of 40 professional artists from all over the United States will converge upon Downingtow...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    05/29/2016
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • Twistback Center For The Arts Inaugural Spring Arts Wine and Music Festival will be held on the T...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Debtors Anonymous

    05/30/2016
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    In D.A., our purpose is threefold: to stop incurring unsecured debt, to share our experience wit...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Pajama Storytime

    06/01/2016
    06:30PM — 07:30PM

    Wednesdays at 6:30 PM - Join us for an evening of stories, songs, crafts, and fun to end your day...


  • Pro-Act's Family Education Program

    06/01/2016
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    When someone is addicted to drugs & alcohol, the diease affects the entire family. Each month PR...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Drop in on Nature

    06/02/2016
    09:30AM — 12:00PM

    oin TLC for our Drop-In on Nature Playgroup! This program is designed for children 0-Kindergarten...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    06/02/2016
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Kennett/Unionville Relay for Life

    06/03/2016
    06:00PM — 08:00AM

    At Relay For Life events, communities across the globe come together to honor cancer survivors, r...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • On June 4th, 2016, The Octorara School District will be hosting the 2nd Annual Octorara Angels Ra...


  • PurpleStride Delaware 2016 - 5K Run/Walk

    06/04/2016
    08:00AM — 12:00PM

    PurpleStride Delaware is back and better than ever! This year, our 5K run and family-friendly wal...


  • Chester County Blues Barbecue

    06/04/2016
    02:00PM — 07:00PM

    The 7th Annual Chester County Blues Barbecue once again comes to Wyndsor Farm in beautiful northe...


  • Herp Search

    06/04/2016
    05:00PM — 07:00PM

    Don’t miss this opportunity to explore the interesting world of the mysterious Reptiles and Amphi...


  • June Barn Dance

    06/04/2016
    08:00PM — 10:00PM

    Experience the culture in agriculture at Coverdale Farm Preserve's Saturday barn dance! Bluegrass...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Steamin' Days at Auburn Heights

    06/05/2016
    12:30PM — 04:30PM

    Join us on the first Sundays, June through November for Steamin’ Days at Auburn Heights, when the...


  • Birthday Bash at Auburn Heights

    06/05/2016
    12:30PM — 04:30PM

    In today’s disposable culture, it is not very common for anything to celebrate its 100th birthday...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    06/05/2016
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Debtors Anonymous

    06/06/2016
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    In D.A., our purpose is threefold: to stop incurring unsecured debt, to share our experience wit...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Selling American Innovation

    06/07/2016
    07:00PM — 08:00PM

    Join Tom Marshall, founder of Friends of Auburn Heights Preserve, as he shares stories from his l...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Pajama Storytime

    06/08/2016
    06:30PM — 07:30PM

    Wednesdays at 6:30 PM - Join us for an evening of stories, songs, crafts, and fun to end your day...


  • Pro-Act's Family Education Program

    06/08/2016
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    When someone is addicted to drugs & alcohol, the diease affects the entire family. Each month PR...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Drop in on Nature

    06/09/2016
    09:30AM — 12:00PM

    oin TLC for our Drop-In on Nature Playgroup! This program is designed for children 0-Kindergarten...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    06/09/2016
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Race to Beat POTS 5K

    06/12/2016
    10:00AM — 11:30AM

    Kennett Square will be home to a walk and run to raise awareness for Postural Orthostatic Tachyca...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    06/12/2016
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • Join St. Anthony’s Church as we celebrate the art, culture, traditions and excitement of the Rena...


  • oin St. Anthony’s Church as we celebrate the art, culture, traditions and excitement of the Renai...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Debtors Anonymous

    06/13/2016
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    In D.A., our purpose is threefold: to stop incurring unsecured debt, to share our experience wit...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Pajama Storytime

    06/15/2016
    06:30PM — 07:30PM

    Wednesdays at 6:30 PM - Join us for an evening of stories, songs, crafts, and fun to end your day...


  • Pro-Act's Family Education Program

    06/15/2016
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    When someone is addicted to drugs & alcohol, the diease affects the entire family. Each month PR...


Chester County High School Sports