NIAGARA FALLS – The School Board is considering a major restructuring to improve maintenance and cleaning of the city’s public school buildings.
If adopted, the restructuring will decentralize the school district’s maintenance department and assign its employees to individual schools or clusters of schools, instead of assigning them to a central pool responsible for all of the district’s buildings.
“This will be a redeployment of existing positions in the maintenance department, and will not require any increase in personnel,” School Superintendent Cynthia A. Bianco told members of the School Board on Thursday night.
After the board members spent 90 minutes discussing the suggested restructuring, the superintendent said, “We will have more discussions in the next few weeks, and it may take months to fully implement any changes you may make.”
School Business Administrator Timothy J. Hyland said, “The key to placing personnel in groups of buildings instead of in a centralized maintenance facility will be an increase in productivity.”
Hyland said administrators have been “frustrated by the lack of accountability among cleaners and custodians.”
The School Board has received occasional complaints about poor maintenance and cleaning in some buildings.
Board member Russell J. Petrozzi raised questions about the quality of maintenance and perceived high absenteeism among the maintenance staff.
Reassignments under the proposed reorganization would provide for a maintenance supervisor, a dispatcher, a driver to deliver equipment and supplies to each school, and an administrator of quality assurance.
Bianco said the objective is to provide “efficiency, transparency and accountability” in the maintenance department.
Bianco and Hyland said the recommended changes would make repair personnel, groundskeepers, laborers, custodians, porters and cleaners feel like part of a team with the instructional staff and administration in “ownership” of their individual schools.
Board members also discussed keeping some supplies on hand at each school building to eliminate time-wasting trips to a central maintenance facility for often- needed materials.
The board took no action after Thursday’s discussion and will await additional reports and recommendations at future board meetings.