A Messy Situation

By: Laura Gibbs
By: Laura Gibbs

The school year started with 158 familiar faces missing. Last spring, the Rockford School Board voted to "outsource" custodians.

The district chose GCA to clean-up which is saving the district $3.5 million. But un-named sources inside the schools are watching and documenting what's not getting done.

At the beginning of the school year, 23 News showed you pictures a parent took of the scummy and smelly bathrooms at Nelson school. Six months later, the complaints are still coming in. Pages upon pages of e-mails discussing unhealthy and unsafe schools.

IEA Uniserv Director Sandra Meyer says, "With tax money that's being paid to have our students and employees working in those conditions it’s a sad state of affairs."

Friday, members of the Rockford Education Association released all the eyewitness reports that date back to August 12, 2005. In the document, numerous e-mails from teachers, principals, and staff members complaining about money and items that come up missing or improper use of chemicals.

REA President Molly Phalen says, “We've had teachers, para’s and secretaries receive chemical burns from sitting on toilet seats."

But cleanliness is the criticism found over and over. Rea President Molly Phalen says the teachers union could have filed tons of grievances against the district since cleaning classrooms is breaking the teachers contract. Phalen states, "Our contract does indicate that teachers do not have to perform non-instructional housekeeping functions."

RBMA President Kelly Hribal led the fight against the district to keep the custodians. He says after sitting back and watching what's not getting done so it was time to speak up again. He's asking board members to take a look at bringing back daytime building engineers. Hribal tells 23 News, "It puts a huge target on their backs when someone speaks up. I don't think many parents are aware of exactly what is going on."

But inside sources are and will continue to watch and write. Meanwhile union leaders are putting their heads together to clean-up the situation. Numerous calls were put into administrators in the Rockford Public School District. None of those calls were returned. Tuesday night district leaders will present to school board members their own evaluation of GCA’s job performance.


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