CAMDEN, Maine — The Camden-Rockport school system will retain its custodians.
The School Administrative District 28 board voted unanimously Wednesday night to forego outsourcing its custodial services to a private company even though the board chairman said it would save up to $370,000 over three years.
The board received a standing ovation from a packed room after its vote.
The school district — along with the Five-Town Community School District — had sought bids last year from private cleaning companies.
The Five-Town Community School District — which oversees the high school for Camden, Rockport, Hope, Appleton and Lincolnville — determined that the change would not save any money.
But SAD 28 — which operates Camden-Rockport Middle School and the Camden-Rockport Elementary School — found that it would save money.
The school staff and public, however, turned out in large numbers to oppose laying off the district’s custodial staff. The opponents to the outsourcing said district employees provide a value that can’t be put into dollars and cents.
Many of the people in the audience Wednesday night were wearing buttons that stated “Clean Schools, Keep it Local.”
Board Chairman Matthew Dailey said it was difficult to ignore the savings, particularly with the district considering asking voter approval at some point for a new middle school. One of the arguments for a new school will be savings in energy costs, he said, while in this case, outsourcing would save money.
Dailey said the difference in the costs between the bids from the private companies and the district’s custodial staff is solely wages.
The board and custodians are in the middle of labor negotiations. The board chairman said the board cannot discuss any aspects of negotiations.
In other action Wednesday night, the board gave unanimous approval to the proposed 2014-2015 budget. The proposed spending package is about $12.5 million, with an increase in expenditures less than 2 percent. The amount of money to be raised from property taxes for the school only will increase 1 percent because of other revenues.
The board also voted to confirm the nomination of Jaime Stone as principal of Camden-Rockport Middle School. She is currently a principal at a school in Baltimore.
Janet Anderson was hired as principal for Camden-Rockport Elementary School. She is a literacy coach in Cumberland.