Abington Heights outsources its custodial operations to GCA Services Group

By Robert Tomkavage - rtomkavage@timesleader.com | September 27th, 2016 11:02 am

CLARKS SUMMIT — Members of the Abington Heights School Board approved GCA Services Group, of Cleveland, Ohio, to oversee the district’s custodial and maintenance operations, beginning Nov. 1, during a regular meeting Sept. 21.

According to Abington Heights Superintendent of Schools Michael Mahon, the district is expected to experience a 35 percent reduction in costs.

Mahon estimates the district will save $150,000 each year by making the switch from Kelly Services.

“Our goal is always to take the savings and put them back into the classroom to provide services directly to kids,” Mahon said. “Our belief is this company will provide excellent service to our schools and allow us to focus on our core mission of education.”

Mahon added none of the current 28 Abington Heights employees will lose their jobs as a result of the switch and the seven or eight people currently employed through Kelly Services will have the opportunity to apply for employment through GCA.

Also, when an Abington Heights employee retires or leaves the district, the position will be filled by GCA.

The district utilizes Kelly Services for subcontracting of its long-term substitutes and clerical staff.

“Over time, as people have retired or left the district, we’ve been moving toward private contracting and using vendors to provide services,” Mahon said. “We found in many places we’ve been successful, however we’ve not experienced that same level of success in our custodial (operations).”

Mahon believes the district employees will be able to co-exist well with the new company.

“Our current employees will be completely separate from GCA,” Mahon said. “We will continue to supervise Abington Heights employees with Abington Heights management and GCA will run concurrently with their program. One of the things we’ll decide upon is the distribution of responsibilities. Over time, we envision this being successful and the scope of GCA’s work expanding in the district.”

Members of the board accepted the resignation of Abington Heights Middle School Principal Michael Elia. According to board president Cathy Hardaway, Marc Wyandt, who currently serves as principal of the Waverly and Clarks Summit elementary schools, was approved as Elia’s replacement during the September work session.

Wyandt is expected to take over in early October, per Mahon, who added the district is in the process of finding an elementary school principal.

Tim Moher, President of the Abington Heights Education Association, announced the negotiating team of Alicia Vogel, Barb Frutchey, Lydia Chase and Tom Lavelle will begin bargaining for the association’s next contract starting Jan. 1, 2017.

Moher spoke about the association’s Core Value Campaign which includes:

• Staffing the schools with qualified professionals and the opposition to reductions in professional staff.

• Staffing the schools with support staff, substitutes, maintenance personnel, bus drivers and food service workers who are members of our the community and the opposition of outsourcing and privatization of services in the district.

• The need for libraries, guidance support, foreign language, the arts and vocational programs and the opposition to cutting, diminishing and diverting educational programs and electives.

• Maintaining low student-to-teaching ratios.

• The need for a competitive compensation package comparable to the highest achieving schools in the area to continue to attract and retain the most qualified educators.

In other business:

• Christine Kallinger-Allen was approved as a full-time German teacher.

• Tammy Boyd was approved as a full-time Speech and Language Pathologist.

• Zachary Haney was approved as a varsity girls swimming coach.

No current Abington Heights employee will their lose job as part of switch

By Robert Tomkavage


Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.