Page 10 THE SAUGUS ADVOCATE – Friday, June 14, 2019 ASKS | FROM PAGE 1 unions have benefits and he has stated that health insurance is an issue that’s costing the town too much money. So, he doesn’t see it as improving the quality of custodial work in the town’s schools – it’s only a matter of dollars and cents. The 90-10 [town/individual contributions] split for this town is unsustainable. Everybody knows it, but he refuses to discuss it and change it. Q: So, what’s the issue here? A: If you think about the word custodian – custodians are caretakers; they are caretakers of town buildings; they’re caretakers of our buildings. They’re caretakers of our children at the same time. Custodian doesn’t just mean a janitor sweeping the floor. These people are invested. When we have snowstorms, custodians are out there blowing the snow, putting down ice melt and making sure people and the kids can get into the schools safely. When the heat goes off in the middle of the winter at three in the morning, a custodian comes down and turns it on. Custodians even have the obligation in the really cold weather to come down and make sure the heat is on and to make sure the kids have a safe, warm and comfortable environment – the kids and staff. So, these people are not janitors. They’re custodians; they’re custodians of our buildings. When you down to the high school at the start of school after summer vacation, that school is spotless. You can eat off of those floors. Q: As someone who has observed their work as a former School Committee member, how would you grade the work of the custodial staff? A: I would say A-. Q: And that’s based on your eight years on the committee? A: Yes. In the elementary schools, you only have one custodian. Q: Have you gone into the schools since not being reelected to the committee? A: No, but I used to go into the schools all of the time, and I used to visit the schools in the summertime to see how things were going and to see if there were any problems. And these people do a marvelous job, with the few pats on the back that they get, and to treat these 21 employees the way they are being treated is absurd, and people should be ashamed of themselves. Q: Based on what you know 54 OAKES STREET EVERETT, MA 02149 Phone (617) 389-2448 www.saseverett.com Preschool to Grade 8 (PreK program starts at 2.9) Christian Values & Strong Academics Before/After School Programs Extra-Curricular Activities Financial Assistance Available Come and see the difference we can make in the life of your child! Se habla Español - Falamos Português Accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) Bring this ad and receive $50 off your registration. (New Families Only) Registration is on-going. J& • Reliable Mowing Service • Spring & Fall Cleanups • Mulch & Edging • Sod or Seed Lawns • Shrub Planting & Trimming • Water & Sewer Repairs Joe Pierotti, Jr. S LANDSCAPE & MASONRY CO. Masonry - Asphalt • Brick or Block Steps • Brick or Block Walls • Concrete or Brick Paver Patios & Walkways • Brick Re-Pointing • Asphalt Paving www.JandSlandscape-masonry.com • Senior Discount • Free Estimates • Licensed & Insured 617-389-1490 Designing and Constructing Ideas that are “Grounds for Success” Landscaping at the present time, do you think the School Committee – and we had invited any of the five members on the committee to be interviewed on this issue, but nobody took us up on the offer – should have had more public discussion on the pros and cons of privatizing custodial services before they went into the bidding process? A: Well, I think it’s a twoedged sword here. One is negotiations with the contract expiring. That has to be done in Executive Session. So, first of all, you do your negotiations with the union. Second of all, as we privatized the school lunch program – which was a little bit different because it involved costs to the schools – there should have been some public discussion on the pros and cons of privatization, aside from the questions of contract negotiations. So, there should have been two different things. There should have been (on the School Committee agenda) several times public discussion of the pros and cons, and the School Committee should be obligated – they don’t have to state what their position is – to listen to the public. They are elected to serve the public, not to dictate to the public, and they should have heard from parents, and they should have heard from anybody concerned what their thoughts were – and take those thoughts, put them in a cogent manner in their brains and then come up with “Yeah, we should privatize” or “No, we shouldn’t privatize.” There has never been a study done to see if privatization is going to save any money, or what the pros are. If you look at other school districts that have privatized, I don’t think any one of them has ever said they were successful. I know there is a local school department that privatized – and then one or two years into the contract, the costs escalated so high that they put it out again for bids, and now they have two companies, each working in different schools, and they get the best price that way and they can see who is doing the best job. Q: So, does doing an indepth study and seeking public input get into a school committee doing its due diligence as far as finding out what the pros and cons are? A: Oh, absolutely. Q: And getting out there and talking to other school districts about their experience? A: Yeah. At the very least, if this was a thought, they could have extended the contract for another year when the new Saugus Middle-High School is going to start to be open and brought in a consultant to do a study. There was a study made when we had some problems with the sports department. We hired a consultant to come in and give us a 20- to 25-page report on the sports department. Why couldn’t that have been done on the custodial department? They could have hired somebody to come in who knows what they’re doing – interview people, do the pros and cons, and then have a document in front of you that says, “Yes, you’re going to save $5 million” or “No, you’re not going to save $5 million.” But it’s not strictly a dollars-and-cents issue; there are intangibles that happen there every day. Q: What do you think what’s happening says about the Saugus School Committee and Saugus Public Schools or open government – the fact there wasn’t any feedback sought from the public? A: It shows there was absolutely no transparency, and to this day, we won’t know for a couple of weeks what’s on the agenda for June 20 [the next School Committee meeting], but I’d be very surprised to see it on the agenda for the 20th, because the chair maintains that she is the only one who has the authority to put things on the agenda. Even when I was a School Committee member and I sat at meetings and I sent emails to request items put on the agenda, I was refused. And the answer I got is because policy said that the chair is the one who sets up the agenda. Well, what good is that? Being a dictatorial Town of Saugus? Are we different than the State of Massachusetts or the United States of America – where you lose your ability to have representative government? This is supposed to be representative government, not dictatorial government. Q: What do you think of the fact that for over a month we have been trying to solicit views from people who faASKS | SEE PAGE 11

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