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Posted on Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 11:59 a.m.

Total staff layoffs at Ypsilanti schools to increase as effort to privatize custodians falls flat

By Danielle Arndt

Ypsilanti school board members did not vote on a contract to privatize custodial services this week, causing the district to head back to the drawing board on how to slash an additional $500,000 from its budget.


Sharon Irvine

From LinkedIn

The Ypsilanti school district approved its 2012-13 budget on June 11. Now, in light of keeping the district’s 26 custodians in-house, administrators will work on amending the budget and deficit elimination plan to account for the change. The budget was passed with the assumption a $500,000 savings would be achieved either through privatization or by gaining concessions from the custodial staff.

Currently, YPS is looking at the elimination of eight additional positions to make up the difference, Executive Director of Human Resources Sharon Irvine said Thursday. She said that would bring the total number of position cuts to 105.

About 75 of those 105 are expected to be laid off. The remaining 30 staff are retiring or resigning, Irvine said.

Ypsilanti initially called for staffing cuts totaling about $5.45 million in its deficit elimination plan, which was approved in May. Irvine said the district still has to reach that savings, and reducing by another eight staff positions will help YPS get there.

The staffing cuts likely will occur across the board, she added. No area is safe from cuts. She said the special education department has experienced the deepest cuts so far this year. About 45 special education positions have been cut, she said.

“We found special education was certainly the area we had the most room to do that in, so proportionately, it took the biggest hit. But we also reduced RCTC staff significantly,” Irvine said. “Now we don’t really have any areas that are particularly able to be cut, so we’ll likely distribute (the cuts) evenly to pull everything in a bit tighter.”

Some custodian positions may still be on the chopping block, Irvine said, despite the staff’s elation at not being privatized.

Ypsilanti's current in-house janitorial staff costs $1.615 million annually or $4.846 million over three years. The two companies the district considered outsourcing with submitted proposals that would cost $978,000 to $996,000 for one year and about $2.9 million for three years.

Staff reporter Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at


Jeff Gaynor

Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 2:09 p.m.

No more taxes. No more taxes ... and then we blame those lowest on the pay scale for making too much money? And please let go of the myth that there's too much waste when public schools are withering for lack of funds. (Yes, I've had my issues with administrative excess, but certainly at this point, this is not the issue.) If our country's standard of living is going to decrease due to globalization, fine - but let's manage this in a more equitable manner. As a teacher, and union rep, I didn't much like our pay and benefits being cut, but I understood the options. I fought tooth and nail for custodians and, alas, bus drivers, to keep their positions, pay and union rights.


Sun, Jun 24, 2012 : 2:50 a.m.

@Tom Todd....what are talking about? @Jeff Gaynor....if you want good schools, you need to pay your taxes. This is obviously way we've decided to dilute the pool and lift the cap on charter schools, all while the other public service unions stood by and said "it doesn't effect me, why do I care?" The unions are dead, and so are their ideals.

Tom Todd

Sun, Jun 24, 2012 : 2:40 a.m.

why does this country Give Billions to other country's?


Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 1:41 p.m.

This happened in Ann Arbor. They were going to privatize the custodians and the bus drivers. We worked hard not to privatize the custodians and the reason is this. Criminal records. You cannot control who comes into your school and you do not know who is cleaning your schools. Do you really want someone who has slipped thru the cracks near yours? Not me. Yes, the bus drivers took the hit, but you know what? Sucked to get privatized, but at least I know my child is safe from predators who are not regularly checked. I just hope Ann Arbor custodians don't get the look when their contract is up in July. Very sad when to protect a paycheck you put your children in jeopardy.

Lac Court Orilles

Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

None of this would have happened if middle class people would have voted for Democrats to represent them in the Michigan legislature. It's beyond me why poor and middle class citizens vote against their own economic well being. GOP = keeping the wealthy happy.

sad day

Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 12:49 p.m.

What taxpayers should be upset about is passing the bond issue and the district putting millions of dollars in just to close buildings. Administration could of closed the White House and move to one of the closed building instead of thinking they should be in the Taj Maj Hall. Maybe then the taxpayers would of got some relief.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 9:46 p.m.

Actually I went to Ypsilanti schools and from my experience the high school needs custodians. The floors get cleaned twice a year (summer and Christmas) and the bathrooms are disgusting and 6 of 7 main staircases are filthy and a lot of times covered with pizza sauce, milk, or syrup. So I know cutting custodians will help for now but isn't the best idea.

sad day

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 9:36 p.m.

Per Harry's statement:, Where are you getting your information? Custodians for Ypsilanti Schools start at 14.67 The highest is paid about 18.00. Pushing a broom, lets talk about that, they also do grass cutting, snow removal, clean bathrooms that have been urinated all over, clean up puke, do breakfast and lunch programs, unload delivery trucks, do light maintenance, keep the building clean, keep temperature regulated, climb ladders to change lights and ballasts, change ceiling tiles, and work their butts off during summer cleaning until the sweat is pouring off them to prepare them for the next school year. They listen to the students when that child feels like they have no one else. The district could eliminate the entire support staff and still not erase the deficit., they are starting at the wrong end of employees pay schedule. Everyone with common sense, knows they need to start at the top and work there way down.

Rib Queen

Thu, Jul 19, 2012 : 11:23 a.m.

Show down at the next school board meeting???? Anyone?


Sun, Jun 24, 2012 : 2:47 a.m.

Hm....and just how many fights do they breakup?


Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

Sounds like a custodian who loves his job. Thanks for the post.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 6:35 p.m.

Why not privatize? Pushing a broom around a school is not job thats you should make $25 per hour to do. Its a kids job or a second job for others. I understand janitors sometimes do small plumbing jobs or electrical. Farm that out too. Taxpayers would save a fortune and we could put the added money to teachers.


Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 1:46 p.m.

Custodians may do small plumbing jobs but they also make sure the school is secure. I forgot my badge one day and almost got crucified as a stranger. Gotta love a custodian who is doing his or her job. They wipe noses, give out band aids and positive comments to tears from a bad grade. Hugs to the non privatized custodians.

Tom Todd

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 8:53 p.m.

$25 per hour, not buying it but Rush Limbaugh sells it as the Gospel and down fall of the nation, as he makes 30million a year.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 8:32 p.m.

With privatization you never really know who is working within the school. Custodians are in the school throughout the entire school day with children. There is a lot of interaction between the children and custodian (talking in hall way, cleaning in lunch room, etc.). It is important to know exactly who the custodians, and everyone else is, who works in the schools are. With privatization, this is lost.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 6:44 p.m.

When you privatize, you lose control. You're locked into a contract with no procedures for problem resolution. If those who write the contract omit a duty or two, the company will not extend itself to get it done. Plus, any outlined "extras" will cost much more. You get poorer service for less money.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 5:32 p.m.

Blame the custodians for teacher layoffs. Crafty move. How about cutting a few layers of bureaucracy instead?


Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.

Could not agree more. I have a few pitchforks if you want to join the rally.