Pinelands Adds Custodial Supervisor Position

Board Also Approves School Ice Hockey Club
Oct 23, 2018

The Pinelands Regional Board of Education unanimously approved a new management position at its Oct. 10 meeting, although without an announced salary.

The district will soon have a “night custodian maintenance supervisor.” Actually the person picked for the job will work for two districts – Pinelands Regional and Little Egg Harbor Township – in a shared services agreement that will split the costs of salary and benefits between them as the supervisor travels between the districts’ schools overseeing the custodial and maintenance staff.

Pinelands Superintendent Melissa McCooley, who in a similar shared services agreement is the Little Egg Harbor superintendent, had pushed for the new position at the Pinelands board September meeting. She said that alleged incidents of sabotage (a mop head shoved into a toilet and a broom handle crammed into a pump system requiring more than $5,000 to repair), past high overtime expenses, and because “there are many times in the evening where not much is getting done,” necessitates a new supervisor.

Some board members expressed concern about creating the position. Board Vice President Patricia Chambers asked if supervision was the job of existing foremen. Betti Anne McVey questioned if one person popping in and out of four school buildings could eliminate problems in all of them. Jeffrey Bonicky didn’t think a person should be hired simply to catch somebody shoving a mop head in a toilet.

McCooley was pressed for more information at the Oct. 10 meeting.

She had said at the September meeting that she completed a study of custodial staff overtime for the past three years. In the 2017-2018 school year, one individual had racked up over $18,000 in overtime pay, while another had approached the $30,000 mark. When asked if the 2017-18 school year – which saw many problems because of the high school rehabilitation project – may have been an outlier, and if the overtime record for the previous two school years fell in line, she responded, “It was consistent.”

Four members of the custodial/maintenance staff are currently working at the Pinelands Junior High School building during the day, while a dozen works during the evening. Instead of hiring a new evening supervisor, McCooley was asked if Buildings and Grounds Supervisor John Bellone could work a couple evenings instead of all day shifts. McCooley responded by saying Bellone already puts in appearances on weekends and evenings.

Also at the September meeting, some board members remarked the school has never looked so good as it had this year. How does that square with McCooley’s “there are many times in the evening where not much is getting done” claim?

“As in every department in every school district, there are positives and negatives,” responded McCooley. “Mr. Bellone’s department is doing a great job, they’re working hard, the school is beautiful, the teachers have commented on it, the staff has commented on it. But there are some issues we still need to address. Regardless, we feel that, looking at data, looking at the fact that we have a $53 million referendum project that will be complete soon with a brand new gorgeous building, having a shared service agreement for a night supervisor can only provide extra assistance to ensure that our facilities are maintained.”

In the end, McCooley prevailed. Board member Stephen Kubricki remarked he had originally planned on voting no because of concerns such as those expressed above. “But Dr. McCooley was extremely persuasive and took all my arguments and basically not only addressed them but made such a strong supporting case that I am now obliged to vote in the affirmative. The board looked at it very deliberately and we asked the questions, and changed from negative to positive.”

The job description says the person taking the new position must have a black seal boiler license, a high school diploma or the equivalent; supervisory ability; extensive knowledge of floor preparation, cleaning and waxing; a minimum of three years experience in plant operation and maintenance, cleaning methods and procedures, minor equipment repair, security and heating and ventilation; and be able to pass a criminal history background check.

The job description did not include a salary range.

In other business at the Oct. 10 meeting, the board approved a new $144,848 contract for Board Secretary/School Business Administrator Stephen Brennan that will run through June 30, 2019.

The board also approved the formation of an ice hockey club. The club will meet one or two times a month at the Atlantic City Flyers Skatezone.

“We hope to introduce all students in grades 7-12 to the sport and grow enough interest to build a high school program for our district,” the volunteer coaches wrote the district in applying for the club formation.

It seems there is plenty of student interest, considering more than 40 had signed up for the club.

— Rick Mellerup

rickmellerup@thesandpaper.net

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