Custodians march to prevent outsourcing

11:09 PM, Oct 22, 2011   |    comments
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Saturday, dozens of employees marched through Knoxville to show their displeasure with the possibility of being outsourced.

Knox County Schools' face an estimated budget deficit of at least $7 million. The Board of Education is considering a number of possible cuts many of which are unpopular. Saturday, dozens of employees marched through Knoxville to show their displeasure with one of those options.

Dr. McIntyre said if they more forward with the plan to outsource custodial services, all current custodians would remain employed, but the district would save million. Dozens of district employees don't understand how those savings will be made if there aren't any job cuts, so they marched Saturday to get the word out.

Leslie Henry is the head custodian at Beaumont Elementary. She was one of several school system employees who marched from Vine Middle School in East Knoxville to the City County Building Downtown.

"I'm here to to save my job," said Henry.

Earlier this week, Dr. McIntyre said the proposal with "Service Solutions" guarantees two things.

"It guarantees that for the period of the contract that our current employees will remain employed with Service Solutions if they remain in good standing if they continue to do what they're supposed to do, and that they will be offered the same wage," said Dr. Jim McIntyre.

At the same time, the school system would save $2.3 million dollars. Savings would come with the wages of new hires. Protesters disagree with their math.

"It's unclear how that would happen so it's clearly not. They have some other trick up their sleeve and that's not what's going to happen," said Elizabeth Owen, a member of Jobs with justice of East Tennessee. "You know, these folks are our family," said Owen.

A family they say the outsourcing could ruin.

"Our kids interact with the custodians. They know them well. They feel very comfortable and safe with them," said Gloria Johnson, a teacher at Richard Yoakley School.

"Some days I can talk to a child, and it seems like I make the situation better for them," said Henry. "The kids are our future. I want to be there for our kids."

The group plans to stay active until a decision on the outsourcing contract is made. Dr. McIntyre hasn't made any recommendations yet. There will be a budget forum at Fulton High School this coming Thursday at 6pm.

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