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Posted: Monday, September 16th 2013 at 9:48pm

Gainesville School Board gives poor grade to janitorial contractor

By Marc Eggers Staff
EMAIL STORY CONTACT EDITOR PRINT
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Maria Calkins
GAINESVILLE – The Gainesville City School Board Monday night had a "bone to pick" with the janitorial contracting service that took over the responsibility of cleaning city schools beginning July 1st.

And it appeared that Cory Crane, Regional Operations Manager for Southern Management, was not aware of the level of dissatisfaction he was about to encounter as he stood before the Board.

Crane was filling in for the Manager initially assigned to working with Gainesville Schools who had unexpectedly resigned days earlier. That manager had not informed Crane of the scope of the complaints that had arisen regarding the janitorial service Southern Management was to provide and Crane was obviously taken aback.

"If all this was a surprise to you," Board member Sammy Smith asked, "then your previous manager was not communicating…is that a fair thing to say?"

"That is correct," Crane replied. "And I could go back and just throw it all on him, but at the end of the day I am not here to make excuses. I don’t think that is what you want to hear."

School Board Chairwoman Maria Calkins had started the ball rolling. "I have a couple of comments just because I sat in on the bid process…and I have to say I was so impressed with your presentation. And I was excited that we were moving forward...about certain quality levels that we needed to have guaranteed."

"I don’t mean to be ugly, but I’m frustrated that I believed it all and I haven’t seen it," Calkins said.

"I have to say, because I was a part of the (bid) process in the spring that I have been disappointed."

Calkins and other Board members cited a survey they had circulated among school principals and administrative staff members regarding their experiences with Southern Management’s janitorial services at their respective schools. That survey showed overall dissatisfaction with Southern Management.

"I have high expectations because that is what was presented to us. I realize that you need to work out some things but I want what was promised. I do," Calkins added.

Board member David Syfan added, "I think they’re trying to say in a nice way that the quality level is not what we were expecting and we need you to make a change."

Crane pledged to personally begin to remedy the problem even as Southern Management was training a new manager to assume full time responsibility with Gainesville City Schools.

"By the end of this week," Crane promised, "I plan to have a really good up-and-running system going here." Crane added that the new manager would be in place in two weeks.

Crane also promised to appear before the School Board at their next meeting in three weeks on October 7th for a review of the changes he implements.

After the meeting Chairwoman Calkins said, "We’re willing to give them a second chance. We want it to work out. It’s a large contract…it’s a multimillion dollar contract…because it’s so important to have our schools clean."

"But it hasn’t been happening as it was promised in the contract and we’re going to hold them to it."
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