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Decatur School Board discusses superintendent search, custodial services contract

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Decatur School Board discusses superintendent search, custodial services contract

The Decatur School Board met on Tuesday, June 14, to discuss the superintendent search and an RFP for custodial services. Photo by Zoe Seiler.

Decatur, GA — The City Schools of Decatur School Board, at its June 14 meeting, continued discussing the superintendent search. The board will work with the Georgia School Boards Association to conduct public engagement prior to the superintendent job being posted.

The school board is working with the Georgia School Boards Association to conduct the district’s search for the next superintendent. The board received two timelines from GSBA. One timeline has the board conducting community engagement sessions before the job is posted, and the second timeline would have the public engagement come after the job is posted. Both timelines would set the board up to have the next superintendent appointed around April 2023.

In January and February, the board met with the GSBA and consultants from McPherson & Jacobson and BWP & Associates to explore their options of firms that could find a permanent superintendent to replace former superintendent David Dude. The current superintendent, Maggie Fehrman, has a short-term contract with the district but has been invited to apply for the job.

Fehrman took over for former superintendent David Dude in April 2021 after he left the district following months of investigative stories by Decaturish.com that examined allegations raised by the school district’s former human resources director. The School Board gave Fehrman a one-year contract in May 2021.

The school board extended her contract in February for another year. Her new contract, which begins July 1, gives Fehrman a $10,000 raise, from $190,000 to $200,000. She’s also eligible for a retention bonus of $25,000 if she completes the full term of her contract. She can also get a payment of up to $13,333 if she does not use all 15 of her personal leave days.

In other business:

– The school board awarded a contract to Environmental Services Partners in the amount of $528,000 for custodian services.

The district contracted with a custodial service company during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide substitutes for the school system’s custodial team. The administration has talked about the opportunity to continue using custodial services contractors instead of hiring new staff to replace staff as they leave CSD, Fehrman said.

“This RFP will allow us to expand that opportunity to use a contracting service for custodial staff,” Fehrman said. “This does not mean that we will get rid of any of our current staff. As there’s natural attrition, and as some staff decide to retire or find another position in a different job, we will replace them with contracted positions. This, I think, is a really good benefit for the school system and will help us make sure that our schools are clean and well maintained.”

The district released the request for proposals on April 7 and received two proposals from Environmental Service Partners and LGC Global Energy FM, LLC on May 10. The district sought custodial services for all of its facilities.

“As part of this Custodial Program, it is anticipated that Custodians will be necessary at all of the School Facilities,” the RFP states. “It is the desire of CSD to work with the selected Firm to develop a specific plan of action to achieve the necessary services Therefore, CSD is seeking Firm (s) or Team (s) based on their qualifications and proposals.”

CSD operates 10 schools and two administrative facilities.

“CSD’ Facilities Department currently maintains all facilities with in-house personnel and contracted services,” the RFP says. “Currently 80% of the day custodians are CSD employees and 20% are contracted. During normal daily operations, night, holiday, and summer custodial services are performed by in-house and contracted custodial services.”

If the contract is approved, Environmental Service Partners would provide summer, holiday, daily and night custodial services to all CSD facilities as requested by the district’s facilities department.

– Fehrman gave an overview of the new laws that will impact the upcoming school year, and new policies and procedures the board will have to vote on in July. House Bill 1084, which prevents the use of curricula or training programs which seek to promote or encourage certain divisive concepts, requires the school board to adopt a complaint resolution policy by Aug. 1.

HB 1178, known as the Parent Bill of Rights, also passed during the legislative session. The school board has to develop procedures by the first day of school. The bill allows parents to review all instructional material used in their child’s classroom.

Local boards of education would have to adopt a policy or regulation to promote parental involvement in public schools. As part of that policy, procedures must be established for parents to not only review instructional material, but object to it as well.

The bill also allows parents to access and review all records relating to their child, access information about promotion and retention policies and high school graduation requirements, and gives them “the right to direct the upbringing and the moral or religious training of his or her child.”

HB 1283 requires the school board to have a written policy to ensure breaks are provided for students and recess is not withheld for disciplinary reasons by the beginning of the school year.

“We already have a policy around unstructured break time,” Fehrman said. “I want to see if that is sufficient and meets the need, so that may be an easy one for us to sign off that we’ve already got that in place.”

Additionally, the board has to adopt rules of conduct for public meetings by Oct. 1 as laid out in Senate Bill 588. The board also had to adopt a complaint resolution policy by Jan. 1, 2023, to allow parents to object to harmful materials as outlined in SB 226, which requires school districts to provide a process for removing books and other content that parents allege are harmful to minors.

Editor and Publisher Dan Whisenhunt contributed to this article.

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