Petition for Full Day Caretakers

September 2014

Petition

We the undersigned support full day caretakers in all our schools just like all other Metro Winnipeg School Divisions.  Presently there are 10 elementary schools that have not had a full day caretaker since 1994!  If the St James-Assiniboia School Division believes in their mission statement of “safe and caring schools” they would eliminate the unjust practice of part time caretakers, which directly affects the most vulnerable children in our division, kindergarten and day care!  We would like to see the new school board eliminate this practice.

History of Part Time Caretakers:

In 1994 twinning of caretakers was implemented at all schools to save money.  Twinning of caretakers meant a full time caretaker was now working between two schools, one in the morning and one in the afternoon!  In an emergency situation the caretaker would have to run between schools!  This process went on for 10 years until 2004/05 when administrators complained about this practice.  The new policy was based on the square footage of the school, thus those schools over 46,400 square feet received a full time day caretaker and those under (Assiniboine, Athlone, Bannatyne, Buchanan, Brooklands, Crestview, Heritage, Phoenix Robert Browning, and Voyageur) received par time caretakers. Eight of these schools were without a caretaker for 1.5 hours while two schools Phoenix and Brooklands were without a caretaker for 3 and 3.5 hours respectively!  In 2011 more money was added to the budget to bring Phoenix and Brooklands up to 1.5 hours but 10 schools still remain without a full time caretaker!  Five elementary schools (Lakewood, Linwood, Sansome, Stevenson, and Strathmillan) have a full day caretaker based on the square footage (above 46,400 sq. Ft.)  Thus this produces, in my opinion, an inequitable two tier system of health and safety! Parents at all schools pay the same taxes, don’t they all deserve the same level of service?  In my opinion, we have a social justice issue right in our own back yard, which needs to be cleaned up!

Problems that arise when no caretaker is available between 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Based on March 2010 principal comments:

  1. Vomit, urine, blood and fecal matter on the floor who cleans it up and how well is it cleaned up?  My understanding is the official policy if teachers and principals refuse to clean it up is, sprinkle white powder on it and leave it on the floor until the night man gets there to clean it up, which could mean waiting as much as 1.5 hours!
  2.  Plugged toilets, over flowing sinks and toilets, bathrooms are closed down and students re-directed to another washroom.
  3.  Water on the floor after p.m. recess in the winter when children track snow into the hallways, a constant slip hazard if teachers and principals don’t mop it up.
  4.  Ringing of boiler alarm when school is in cession and no caretaker to turn it off right away!
  5.  Ever increasing nursery school and day care in schools adds to the wear and tear, and cleanliness of the building, especially when no caretaker is available.
  6.  Electrical power outages where breakers have to be turned back on.
  7.  Fire alarms going off.
  8.  Icy conditions at dismissal who puts down the sand?
  9.  Practise of fire drills can no longer be done at the end of the day which could be disruptive to day care and kindergarten students who have regular afternoon naps.
  10. Contractors coming to the school after 2:00 p.m. to see the caretaker, have to come back on another day.
  11. Leaks or outside services such as Hydro, Gas need access to rooms.

 

 March 2010, Survey of Affected Schools

The St James Division did a survey of the 10 affected schools (Assiniboine, Athlone, Bannatyne, Buchanan, Brooklands, Crestview, Heritage, Phoenix Robert Browning, and Voyageur) during the month of March 2010.  They found that there were a total of 59 incidents that required caretaker assistance.  Administration confirmed that 12/59 incidents happened when no caretaker was available to help out (please see attached documents below).  Thus the March 2010 Survey showed that incidents of bodily fluids, other liquids and fecal matter, getting onto the floors and no caretaker present to assist in cleaning it up, happens 12/59 or 20% of the time.  The School Board felt that since no one was complaining about these situations and principals had not asked for additional cleaning  staff that the public must be satisfied with this level of service at these schools!  The reality appears to be that the public knows nothing about this situation!  This was confirmed by Trustee Hume’s Petition for Full Day Caretakers which was brought to the public during the 2014 election.  Two hundred forty-two members of the public signed the petition out of two hundred fifty-five for a signing rate of 95%.  Almost all of the 255 members of the public who were informed about this issue stated, “I thought you already had full time day caretakers”  Thus this raises the question, “Did the School Board ever inform the public that they planned to cut back on custodial services when they first started this austerity measure way back in 1994?”  Presently in my opinion it is no longer a matter of money since it would only cost about  $180,000.00 over a $100,000,000.00 budget which equals about 1/5 of one percent, chump change.  This money could easily be found through reallocation of funds under the present budget without costing the tax payer a cent.  In my opinion we have a health, safety and equity issue (5 elementary schools get a full time caretaker based on square footage of the building and 10 don’t which creates a two tiered system of health and safety for students within the same school division!), that needs to be rectified for the benefit of the students and staff at the affected schools. All other Winnipeg School Divisions have full day caretakers!  Please read through the following 3 documents below to confirm the existence of the March 2010 survey.

Letter from School Division confirming incidents.

Letter from School Division confirming incidents.

Click on above document to enlarge.

Actual incidents

Actual incidents

Click on above Document to enlarge.

Final Board's response to to concerned residents in May 25, 2010

Board’s response to concerned residents in May 25, 2010

Click on above document to enlarge.

The main reason for not wanting to change the status quo today, appears to be the same reason that was given by the Board back in May 2010.  No employees /unions, principals within the school division are complaining thus, there must be no problem.  Trustee Hume feels that it is human nature within a top-down management system not to complain about a controversial issue.  Employees fear retribution whether real or perceived and will not fill out complaint forms where they have to sign their name.  Thus he is not surprised by the lack of complaints. This point, however, is really irrelevant since Trustee Hume and 242 members of the informed public are complaining and feel that this situation is not the right way to treat children.  Based on their most common comment during election, “I thought you already had a full time day caretakers,” it appears that the public in general knows nothing about this issue!

Trustee Hume’s personal experience of working 33 years at the elementary level in the division, the divisions own data form the March 2010 Survey, where the Division found that these incidents happen 20%, and principal comments from this same survey where they mention the problems but basically say they will do it as other duties assigned, suggests in my opinion that the problem exists.  The informed public sees that a full time day caretaker at all schools is an essential service which needs to be restored.  All other Winnipeg school divisions have a full day caretakers!

Concerned Residents for full day caretakers involved only about 8-10 members of the public in March 2010.  In light of a much larger sampling of the public (255) in Oct 2014, where 242/255 members of the public signed for a 95% level of support, the new school board thus needs to reconsider the issue of using part-time day caretakers at 10 of their elementary schools!  The Oct 2014 Petition for Full Day Caretakers was presented to the school board on Dec. 9th.  There was a motion to refer this Petition to the Finance Facilities Committee Meeting on Tues. Jan. 6th, 2015.  The public is invited to come to the next public school board meeting on Tuesday Jan. 13th for the Boards response to this petition.  Members of the public will be allowed to ask questions about this issue on Jan. 13th 2015.  

 

Final Vote for Full Day Caretakers last night Jan. 13th 2015

Unfortunately there wasn’t enough Board support to get it passed.  The result of the final recorded vote was 7 – 2

Trustees Against Full Day Caretakers:

Trustee Scott Johnston,  Trustee Craig McGregor,  Trustee Bruce Chegus, Trustee Cheryl Smukowich, Trustee Craig Johnson, Trustee Sandy Lethbridge,  Trustee John Mulligan

Trustees For Full Day Caretakers:

Trustee Ed Hume,  Trustee Jennifer Lawson

A big thank you to the members of the public who attended the meeting.

See the School Divisions Response to all Petition Signers below:

Petition Response Letter #1

Petition Response Letter #2

Fulfilling Election Promises 2010

Safer, Healthier Schools:

– A need for full-day caretakers in all St. James-Assiniboina Elementary schools, like all other Winnipeg School Divisions!

The caretaker services at Phoenix and Brooklands schools were increased 1.5 hours but unfortunately 10 elementary schools (Assiniboune, Athlone, Bannatyne, Buchanan, Brooklands, Crestview, Heritage, Phoenix, Robert Browning & Voyageur) still remain 1.5 hours short of a full 8 hour day caretaker.  A petition in support of full day caretakers is presently being circulated.  If you would like to sign it, please send me an email at (edrhume@gmail.com).

– More public input into safer schools by discussing the issues of bullying, violence, alcohol and drugs.

Two school resource officers SRO’s (police officers) have been hired by our school division to build positive relationships with our students on a daily basis.  Anti-bullying programs and safe school forums have also been included.

More Open, Transparent, Accountable School Board:

– More public discussion of issues effecting parents and community members rather than so many in camera (private) sessions by the school board trustees.

Moved to have debates on such issues as Bill 18, smudging in schools, and review of Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) materials in high schools but could not get a seconder!

– Develop innovative methods for encouraging more public input at school board meetings.

Board Meetings are now advertised on our Reader Board with the added words, Public Welcome.  Tried to encourage developing more innovative methods for public input but the majority of the Board were satisfied with the status quo.

– Greater involvement of school trustees in schools by increasing their visitations to gain a better understanding of the educational process in classrooms.

Visited all ward schools (St. James Collegiate, George Waters Middle School, Assiniboine, Linwood, Strathmillan, Stevenson and Brooklands) at least once a year.  Also viewed the Jet’s Hockey Academy, Reading Recovery Program and was a regular reader at schools during I Love to Read Month in February. 

– Limited terms for School Board Trustees.

Eight to twelve years would be reasonable.  If re-elected, this could possibly be my last term.

– Wiser more efficient management of taxpayer money.

St James still enjoys one of the lowest tax rates in the City.  This years increase was approximately 4.8% (about $50 for the year), when you consider that inflation is about 2%, the provincial increase to education was 2% (St. James is one of 18 school divisions who received 0% increase), then our actual increase was only .8%.

- By-law change so that a member of the public can ask any question at a school board meeting not just what is on the agenda that night.

As Chair of the Governance Committee (3 trustee members) for the last 4 years, this issue was raised twice and both times defeated 2-1.

– By-law change necessary to make St. James more FIPPA (Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act) compatible and more public friendly.

This was fully accomplished just before the 2010 election, with the assistance of the Manitoba Provincial Ombudsman.  The words “correspondence will not be given to the public” were struck from the Organizational by-law and the right to appeal a decision to the Provincial Ombudsman was also acknowledged.

Greater Parent Involvement:

– More public input into the new report cards and “authentic” assessment.

Lobbied for public meetings but didn’t get too far.  Please check out Winnipeg Free Press story “Trustee Urges Public Forums” under my News Articles tab on the home page.

– Greater encouragement and assistance to school parent councils.

Tried to encourage more opprtunities for school parent councils to meet directly with the board but it was felt that the once a year public budget meeting in Feb. was sufficient, the status quo prevailed.

Programs/Program Reviews:

– Money/credit management courses for all high school students.

Supported the first pilot of a money management course in 2 of our schools which was eventually replaced by the Canadian Foundation of Economic Education (CFEE)’s new program “Money and Youth” a Guide to Financial Literacy which I fully support.  www.moneyandyouth.cfee.org  The program is designed to reach students in grades 4 – 10.

– Thorough evaluation of division initiated programs.

Some program evaluation occurred but there could be more.

– Increased fitness opportunities for all students.

We have maintained a full time physical education co-ordinator and have a strong intramural and athletic program. The Jet Hockey Academy was expanded to other schools.  This program offers the students some great exercise opportunities twice a week from Oct. – March.

This is my report to the public with regard to my political promises in the 2010 election.  I feel I have raised all my previous election promises with varying levels of success.  Please feel free to comment directly on this post or send me an email (edrhume@gmail.com) with your comments.  Thank you.

Sincerely,

Ed