Schools may cut jobs

Published 9:42 am Saturday, June 13, 2009

ISLE OF WIGHT—Custodians at all schools in Isle of Wight County may soon find themselves without a job.

The Isle of Wight County school board discussed a possibility to contract custodial services to an outside vendor at their meeting Wednesday.

Several employees expressed their concerns during citizen comments, saying the news came as a surprise and with no prior communication from IWCS.

“Why were we not notified that a contractor may have come in to take our jobs?” asked Patricia Hunter, a custodian at Carrollton Elementary School.

Stephanie Bailey, president of the Isle of Wight Education Foundation, raised questions about the timing of the issue.

“We are at a point now when the budget has been approved. This raises the question, when is it etched in stone, and when can a hardworking employee feel OK for just a little longer?” asked Bailey.

Bailey said many of the custodial staff have been working for 25 to 30 years for IWCS and are nearing retirement.

“This type of treatment does not have anything to do with the recession,” she said.

The proposal was scheduled for voting on Wednesday, but at the suggestion of Hardy District member Herb DeGroft was tabled to the July meeting.

“It’s a significant decision because of the impact on the custodial staff and their family … it’s a dollars and cents issue but it’s also a human resources issue,” he said.

IWCS employees will also see a 2-percent increase in health insurance rates in fiscal 2009.

The school board approved a morbid obesity rider to the current insurance package, which is provided by Anthem. The current policy excludes coverage for lap band surgery and gastric bypass surgery, as well as any complications arising from those procedures.

“I think it’s a reasonable cost,” said Superintendent Michael McPherson, adding that such procedures have been proven to alleviate chronic health issues such as diabetes and lessen future health costs in the long-term.