Chelmsford Federation of Teachers President Kathryn Chamberlain last night spoke against the School Committee's investigation into outsourcing custodian and kitchen worker positions.
Chamberlain approached the board during the public comment session to bring up numerous concerns about outsourcing these jobs.
"I strongly urge the committee to reject the idea of outsourcing kitchen services and custodial services," said Chamberlain. "They build bonds with students and staff alike, they are familiar faces ... (their) work cannot be duplicated if jobs are outsourced. When students are anxious their ability to learn is impaired. It will affect learning."
Chamberlain said the Request for Proposal for the custodian outsourcing would not require the workers to come in early to clear snow, resulting in more delays and lost learning time for students.
"Custodians arecalled upon to enter classrooms while students are in them, or students are sent to custodians for a jammed locker ... (and they) interact with them in the restrooms and in cafeteria. All (the current custodians) are considered safe because (the students) know the day and evening custodians by name and appearance," she said.
Chamberlain argued outsourcing the jobs would bring in "virtual strangers" and even though they'd be CORI checked, it can't be compared to the years of trust the current custodians have built up.
"Custodians carry keys," she said. "Should they be given keys to access spaces? They will admit access to those who shouldn't (be there) or deny access to those who should? They work for their employer not the school system ."
Chamberlain said she was also concerned about high turnover in the job.
"How can they do all that is listed for so much less? What will they do about all the other things our current custodians do and how much more will they charge? Changing these things would result in adverse working and learning conditions," she told the committee.
The School Committee did not formally respond to Chamberlain, however Vice Chairman Nick DeSilvio said afterward the committee is merely investigating what is best for the district and no final decisions have been made.
Contract negotiations are still going on with the custodians union, said DeSilvio. The School Committee met in executive session before the public meeting began to discuss contract negotiations but nothing official came of those talks.