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CPS to lose more custodians later this month

This article was originally published on October 1, 2015.

Another 61 privately employed custodians who work in Chicago Public Schools are about to lose their jobs cleaning schools, though the district says many of them will be hired back in other buildings.

CPS spokeswoman Emily Bittner said that principals and district officials worked to identify space that no longer needs cleaning because it isn’t being used. Half of any savings recouped are to be returned to the schools later this month, she said.

Several hundred custodians have been laid off since the private company Aramark took over custodial management at CPS in 2014.

The layoffs take effect Oct. 13 and the affected employees have been notified, according to their union, the Service Employees Union International Local 1.

“We will continue to actively fight for our workers at Chicago Public Schools. Right to layoffs are part of our contract, however, we feel that the cuts are too steep. We do think that these layoffs will adversely affect the cleanliness of schools,” Izabela Miltko said.

An Aramark spokeswoman deferred to CPS.

CPS anticipates that more than half of the 61 will be immediately offered jobs elsewhere in CPS, leaving about 20 people out of work. CPS has about 1,800 privately employed custodians and 825 who are employed by the Chicago Board of Education.

“CPS will offer the remainder of employees full-time positions as vacancies arise to help stabilize school staffing,” Bittner said.

Jennie Biggs, a Local School Council member at Sheridan Elementary School, fears the layoffs could affect hundreds of schools as the remaining custodians shuffle to other buildings based on seniority. Biggs says her school council has a standing agenda item about Aramark because the school has seen so many problems, from dirty classrooms to janitors buying their own supplies.

“This is what I’m thinking, we’re going to be reshuffled again,” said Biggs, who’s also part of the parent group Raise Your Hand. “It’s a domino effect.”