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The Fremont Public Schools Board of Education approved contracts with two cleaning companies that will help clean three area elementary schools after hours and nights.

School officials say the contracts were needed to address a two-year-long drought of applicants for vacant custodian positions to help address second-shift cleaning needs at the elementary school level. It marks the first time that Fremont Public Schools will contract with an outside party for school cleaning services.

The contracts will go to Jani-King, which will be responsible for second-shift cleaning duties at Linden and Washington elementary schools, and FBG, which will handle second-shift duties at Clarmar Elementary School. The contracts, combined, will not exceed $112,344.

“We have advertised positions in the paper, on the district website, participated in hiring events in conjunction with the Fremont Area Development Council and and also utilized Indeed, an online ad agency, to no avail,” said Jeff Glosser, facilities manager for Fremont Public Schools.

“Due to the lack of applicants over the past nine months and the need to keep our schools clean, area cleaning services were contacted to gauge interest, and based on those conversations, a request for proposals was created.”

Superintendent Mark Shepard noted that the decision would actually save the district money, at least initially, though he noted that cost was not a factor in the decision as much as a need driven by labor shortages.

Glosser added that no current staff members’ jobs would be jeopardized by the decision. However, if the new direction proves successful, the district may potentially look to handle all of its custodial needs with this approach.

But such a shift would only occur through attrition — or only as vacancies naturally arise, Glosser said.

Currently, the schools rely on borrowing staff members from other buildings to handle the three buildings where there are custodial vacancies, but the job “is really not getting done,” Shepard said.

The administration will meet with these two companies on a weekly basis to ensure quality control.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the board ratified the 2019-2020 negotiated agreement with the Fremont Education Association. The agreement featured some language changes, that amounted to changes in extra duty schedules and changes to language surrounding leave of absence.

The total compensation package, approved in a Jan. 25 vote by the Fremont Education Association, increased by 3.5 percent. Base pay increased from $35,067 to $35,699. The flat salary stipend, used to pay for benefits, increased from $7,500 to $8,000.

Doug Sheppard, president of the Fremont Education Association, said that agreement had a 94 percent approval rating with the association.

In other news from Monday’s meeting:

*The board approved the 2019-2020 calendar for the Fremont elementary schools, Johnson Crossing Academic Center, middle school and high school. The calendar followed parameters approved by the board during its December meeting. During that meeting, among other parameters, the board voted to end the practice of early dismissals on Wednesdays. It was crafted by a committee representing each of the buildings in the district, as well as all of the grade levels and board members.

*The board approved a request to grant an early dismissal at Fremont High School on April 2, to coincide with building-wide ACT testing. On that day, all 11th grade students will be taking the ACT as all 9th and 10th graders will be taking the PreACT. The day will run from 8:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m., and seniors will have no school.

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