School custodians remain without contract in Scarborough

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SCARBOROUGH — The School Board has approved a contract with two maintenance workers, and a regional agreement on teaching and learning collaboration with neighboring school districts.

But the board remains unable to reach an agreement with custodial and food-service workers, whose previous contract expired more than a year ago.

With School Board members John Cole and Chris Caiazzo unable to attend, the board voted 4-0 Sept. 5 on a contract through June 2016 with two school maintenance workers. The last contract expired June 30.

Board member Jackie Perry, who heads the negotiations subcommittee, said the new contract required adding a new “step” for pay scales to accommodate the tenure of staff.

The seventh step for staff with 20 to 25 years in the School Department sets wages at $19.74 per hour this year and adds 30 cents in each of the next two years, with 80 percent of health insurance premiums paid by the School Department.

Staff also receive a maximum $250 annual clothing allowance and a maximum $200 annual allowance for one pair of protective footwear.

The maintenance department was cut in half about three years ago, Perry said, mostly because increased sophistication of building systems means maintenance work is performed by contractors.

The contract is one of four the committee was negotiating this summer. Perry said she is optimistic contracts with administrators and “professionals,” including teachers, social workers and nurses, will be reached.

But the impasse with custodial and food-service staff continues.

Crystal Goodrich, president of the Scarborough Education Association, which represents 30 custodians and 25 food-service workers, said a fact-finding meeting on Monday produced no results.

Perry said the all-day session with the Maine Labor Relations Board included one representative chosen by the union, one selected by the School Board, and a  neutral party, and was recessed because two of them suggested mediation.

The fact-finding session is expected to resume Oct. 22, but the parties are free to negotiate in the interim.

The contract expired June 30, 2012, and the School Department has sought and received bids from three companies to privatize custodial operations and possibly save the district $200,000 to $300,000 annually.

Sebago Education Alliance

Board members also unanimously approved an interlocal agreement formally establishing the Sebago Education Alliance.

The alliance has existed informally since 2004 and includes Scarborough, Gorham, Westbrook, School Administration District 6 in Buxton, and Regional School Unit 14 in Windham and Raymond.

The agreement formally establishes the nonprofit alliance to oversee collaborative curriculum and professional development, day treatment services for students and alternative and summer education programs.

The alliance has directors from each school district. It is funded through special education appropriations given to member school departments, grants, and $5,000 from each district annually.

Perry said the formal agreement provides better legal protection and eases getting insurance coverage for the group.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.