Page 14 THE SAUGUS ADVOCATE – Friday, July 5, 2019 ~ Guest Commentary~ A Letter to the Saugus School Committee Please help me and the rest of Saugus understand your logic. On 6/20/19, prior to your School Committee Meeting, hundreds of residents gathered outside the meeting to protest against the privatization of the school custodians that would cost 21 valuable town employees their jobs. Many of those same residents then made their way inside the cramped meeting space filling the room and overflowing out into the hallway. They showed up and packed the meeting even though your Chairperson refused to place this very important issue on the agenda. These residents were not going to let you hide behind bureaucratic process in an attempt to silence them. One after another, residents, teachers, coaches, custodians, and even students stood in front of you to explain why they felt privatization was not the right move for this town and more importantly its students. Some residents were concerned about the safety of the students, knowing that there would be a rotating cast of custodians coming through the schools with no connection to our students, teachers, or town. They know high turnover is to be expected when you’re employing a company that doesn’t pay their employees a living wage or any benefits. In fact, there was cost savings from privatizing the custodians. After all, the School Committee never presented residents with figures on what could be saved by outsourcing the position. Even two of your own members, Ms. Marchese and Ms. Morgante, stated on the record that an article written in the Daily Item back on 6/28/11 in which then Revere Mayor Thomas Ambrosino said he would vote against a contract for the very same company that you want to clean our schools, because they were not paying their employees a living wage or offering medical benefits. You should take a moment to read this article as it would shed some light on the type of company that you want the town of Saugus to partner with. A quick Google search using the article’s headline, “REVERE WAGE VIOLATIONS COULD KILL CONTRACT FOR CLEANING COMPANY” should pull the article up but if that doesn’t work I’d be happy to send you a copy of the link. Some residents were concerned that there would be no actual Award-Winning Landscaping Servicing the North Shore for over 38 Years they were not allowed to see the bids and were never provided with a comparison showing anticipated savings. Furthermore, when it was disclosed that the winning bid was less than half that of the other bids submitted, the people of Saugus knew that something was not right. Unlike the members of this School Committee and Superintendent DeRuosi, the residents recognize bait and switch tactics used by companies like this when they see them. They know that after this one year contract expires costs will increase significantly eliminating any savings to the town and perhaps even resulting in a loss. They know this because they have seen it happen in the cities and towns around Saugus. Some residents were concerned about the quality of work the town would get from an outside vendor that doesn’t pay their employees a living wage and has extremely high turnover. I think all would agree that if we want to create an environment where our students can thrive we need to be able to provide clean and safe spaces right? How can we expect that of this company when the City of Revere just voted in April to replace them with a company that charges more? Let that sink in. The company that you want to utilize in Saugus was just replaced in Revere by a company that costs more. I can’t imagine they were providing the clean and safe spaces that our children need if they were terminated in favor of a more expensive alternative. And just to be clear, the new company is temporary and Revere is working on a cost analysis that may result in them hiring their own custodians again. It seems like perhaps Revere found out the hard way that privatizing this position results in a diminished product at a higher cost. Residents voiced a lot of different concerns related to the privatization of these custodians and the process that has brought us to this point, but one thing was very clear; residents do not approve of how you came to this decision in back rooms without public input. They understand how important this decision is to the 21 loyal town employees that will lose their jobs, the teachers that rely on these custodians to lend a helping hand, and most importantly, the students who look forward to seeing these men and women every day at school. These men and women that make the children feel safe and that put a smile on their faces when they are having a bad day. After experiencing this outpouring of support for the custodians, and the obvious indignation from the public for the way you’ve handled this process, I was hopeful that you would do better. I was hopeful that you would come away from this meeting with an understanding of what is expected of you. That you would see that this process was flawed and that you would take the necessary steps to right this wrong and prevent these back room politics from happening in the future. In fact, I’m happy to report that the Town Meeting Members got the message loud and clear and tonight they overwhelmingly voted in favor of a non-binding resolution that opposes the privatization of these jobs. They listened to their constituents and voted for the will of the people. In other words, they LETTER | SEE PAGE 20 NOW BOOKING NEW CUSTOMERS! DON’T WAIT! 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