Maintenance staff files grievance with Cassia schools

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BURLEY, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Cassia County school district officials will soon meet to discuss a proposal that could save the district thousands of dollars, the change would affect maintenance and custodial operations. Some staff are speaking out, in hopes their concerns won't be swept under the rug.

On June 20, Cassia School Board of Trustees will review a proposal that could privatized their maintenance and custodial operations. The proposal would be coming from ABM, a janitorial service.

Tim Fisher and Anthony Cain are staff members and believe the direction the district is planning may not be the best fit.

"Our concerns are that 60-plus employees will lose their job, at least their employment with the school. They would have to re-apply with the new company and there's no guarantee on how long that company will keep them at their current wages."

Cain is worried his benefits will change and said at this time he and wife are not in a place for a new transition.

"My wife got cancer, she just did her first chemo and It's been really tough, really-really tough for me," Cain said. "Right in the middle of this, right now It's bad for me. If I got with this company, I'll have to go to whatever they provide."

Cassia School's Superintendent Jim Shank said that no contract has been signed, finalize, or produced, simply a proposal that the board of trustees will look into and decide what action to take.

He assures that they're looking at all the options available to benefit all involve.

"We don't' want anybody to lose pay, we don't want anybody to have a different type of benefit package that would be less, you know what is it that we could do that comparable, so employees don't lose out in the transition," Shank said.

Shank goes on to add, he understand the concerns from the workers, but recognizes there's room for improvement to be efficient with its maintenance and operations.

"It's in our best interest to make sure our schools continue to be maintained, clean, all of these sorts of things," Shank said. "Our intent isn't to put them a position where things will be more difficult for them, however there are efficiencies that are needed and that's what we're looking at."

Fisher said the maintenance, custodial, ground filed a grievance with the district alleging it had violated the rights of its employees when the district didn't comply with its own policies or Idaho Code.

Shank said they did received the grievance and have responded back, a spokesperson for the district said on the filed grievance they found "factual discrepancies."

According to officials, if a contract comes to fruition, the result would save the district $300,000 in the first year. Shank said the company is willing to hire the current employees.

For Cain, a possible change leaves him in a state of uncertainty.

"I don't want to start over, I would be starting completely over," Cain said. "I think if this does happened. I don't know what I'm going to do."

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