CHIPLEY — The Washington County School Board held a budget hearing and a special meeting Tuesday.
The budget hearing was the first in a series of hearings that will continue Monday at 5:05 p.m. at the Administration Building in Chipley and conclude with a final hearing on Sept. 9.
The district is proposing a millage of 7.538 mills to supply a $92.649,792 budget for 2013-14. That proposed rate includes a 1.5 mill property tax for capital outlay projects, including a number of construction and remodeling efforts.
The new Kate M. Smith Elementary School is one of those projects.
Following the budget hearing, the board heard a presentation from GCA Services Group representatives Don Clark, Mark Ryerson and Anthony Ardovino.
GCA Services Group is a provider of janitorial and custodial services that bid on the K-12 cleaning contract for the Washington County School District. GCA Services Group was awarded the bid following the presentation.
“We are there to provide a clean, safe environment for our children,” Clark told the board. The company has offices in Pensacola and Panama City and the company is headquartered in Knoxville, Tenn.
Clark, a regional vice president of operations for GCA Services Group, said his division specialized in K-12 schools and said there would be an on-site manager at the schools to oversee that all work was done to the company’s quality standards.
“We adjust our hours to the needs of the school, we’re very flexible, and our on-site managers are there to work with the principals and do things the way they want them done.”
Clark said the company would hold two job fairs to hire local employees to fill the positions at the school.
Recommended employees who are already working at the school district in janitorial or custodial jobs would be given first opportunity to apply with GCA Services Group, then a second job fair would be held for the general public, Clark said.
The company will also fund five $2,000 scholarships for Washington County students each year, Clark said.
“We just want clean schools and people making sure the job is done,” said Board Member Susan Roberts.
“How can you do what you promise when your company was the lowest bidder?” Board Member Wayne Saunders asked.
“Our company has 40,000 employees,” Clark said. “We have customers nationwide.” The size of GCA Services Group also allows the company to purchase supplies more cheaply, and that cost savings is passed on to the customer, Clark said. “I know that, for example, a $107 pail of wax, we get that same pail for $52.”
“I want to challenge the principals,” Board President Terry Ellis said to the school principals in the audience.” Principals, you hear what they’re promising us, and I want you to hold them accountable. If you don’t, then its shame on us.”