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Indeed.com: Top-scale school custodians get twice the average Norwalk custodian salary

Alvin Mosby
Alvin Mosby is a custodian at Briggs High School.

Update, 3:30 p.m.: List of Fairfield County custodial salaries added

NORWALK, Conn. – Are Norwalk’s school custodians overpaid?

More than a few people believe so, including members of the Board of Education who recently approved a contract containing language that allows Norwalk Public Schools to outsource the work as long as no fulltime, permanent works are laid off. The BoE plans to do just that next fall with seven positions at Columbus and Jefferson Elementary schools.

According to NPS Chief Financial Officer Rich Rudl, “for those two schools alone it would be $160,000 less than what we currently spend.

“If the entire school district were to be outsourced, which we can’t do because we cannot lay an employee off, it would be close to $2 million in savings,” Rudl said.

Rudl did not say how much NPS would pay outside contractors.

According to Indeed.com, the average salary for a custodian in Norwalk is about $27,000. http://www.indeed.com/salary/q-Custodian-l-Norwalk,-CT.html That’s $3,000 more than in New London or Stonington.

In Norwalk, from July 1 2014 to June 30, 2015, the custodians contract calls for a pay range that spans from $40,243 a year for a Grade II, level one worker to $53,028.60 for a Grade I level six employee.

The Danbury Public Schools contract calls for $43,888 for all custodians, with a small decrease for new hires.

There are additional payments for head custodians in Norwalk, ranging from $1,771 a year for the elementary school to $2,831 for the head high school custodian.

Custodians also get 14 to 16 paid holidays a year in addition to regular vacations (two weeks after a year, three weeks after five years, four weeks and 15 years).

Insurance benefits can be found in the attached contract starting on Page 8.

Projected outsourcing savings for NPS includes salary, insurance, taxes and other expenses associated with fulltime employees.

BoE member Shirley Mosby and some NoN readers voiced concern about safety and losing control over who interacts with the school children.

“I support making sure that kids and families, parents and children have the people, the individuals that they feel comfortable with,” she said. “They are Norwalk residents.  … We know they will look after our kids. They are bonded to our children and their parents are familiar with their character and background.”

Rudl said outside contractors would have to subject their employees to the same background screening as regular school employees.

Custodians – Comparable Salaries in Fairfield County

Comments

42 responses to “Indeed.com: Top-scale school custodians get twice the average Norwalk custodian salary”

  1. Stuart Wells

    Custodians are also the people who open the school buildings on Election Day, at 5:00 a.m. and put all the tables and chairs in place for the poll workers to use. I do hope that their “way less well paid” replacements do as good a job. For Norwalk’s BOE to realize the savings mentioned, and for the company supplying the replacement custodians to make it’s profit, there won’t be a lot left for the new custodians.

  2. Jo B.

    Are we seriously comparing pay for custodians in Norwalk to custodians in New London and Stonington? Rents are considerably higher in Lower Fairfield County than New London County. Give these guys (and gals) a break. Moreover, custodians do a lot more than just pushing a mop.

  3. Tobias

    I think this line of reasoning is very poor. The custodians at my daughters Elementary School work very hard, always have a smile on their face for the kids and always interact with them in a positive way. It’s not just cleaning up but also about personality and interaction.
    Part time, 3rd party workers would not be invested in the job. Why not just pick up a custodian in South Norwalk in the morning every day and pay them meager cash under the table? Maybe next we will think about doing this for our teachers? It’s a crazy line of reasoning.

  4. piberman

    Isn’t it wonderful how some people like to spend everyones monies to pay well above market wages for City positions ? We already do that without measurable results, eg our 5th highest paid teachers in CT. If City spending has grown 55% over 2 decades while income remains nearly unchanged why propose above market pay scales for City employees ? Not everyone enjoys higher taxes.

  5. LWitherspoon

    When the NPS custodians buy groceries, do they look for the lowest price or do they voluntarily pay 40% more in order to support local merchants? Willing to bet that more than one has a COSTCO membership and spends his or her own money in a frugal and responsible manner.
    .
    $160,000 in savings from two schools pays the salary of a teacher at each of those schools. $2 million per year would pay for more than twenty teachers! Funds are limited and the BoE has to do right by taxpayers.
    .
    It’s simply unfair to insist that taxpayers subsidize a small group of City employees receiving wages and benefits that are well above those in the private sector.

  6. M. Murray’s

    Can we find out what custodians are paid in surrounding towns? That would be more appropriate than New London or Stonington. Stamford, Darien, Westport, New Caanan,and Wilton are the salaries I want to see.

  7. anon

    @Witherspoon, correct.

    @Jo B. the comparison of $27,000 is the going rate for custodians in Norwalk. The NPS custodians get $53,028, almost 2x that amount, ridiculous.

  8. potaxpayer

    @lwitherspoon, i don’t know what you do for a living and i hope your pay gets cut too. the costodians have been doing there job with no problems for years, now with all the cheap illegal labor around everybody wants to cut the lowest paying jobs even lower, in the future the taxpayer loses, like with the parking authority the workers are low paid and laz is making big money, it used to be local 2405 workers, Oak Hills was operated by the city and at that time it was one of the best municipal golf courses in the country local 2405 did the maintanance, city carting we all know that story it was local 2405. i could go on and on about how privatization is not the answer. the answer is city needs to hire real directors who know how to treat employees and know the jobs at hand( not like the director of operations at DPW) every one will bennefit the employees and the public.

  9. M. Murray’s

    A quick internet check shows Stamford school custodians are in the 56-59,000 range. Darien’s make $35/ hour.

    1. Mark Chapman

      @m. Murray’s

      Right. And Stamford’s average custodian makes $33,000, Darien $28,000 and Wilton $26,000.

  10. M. Murray’s, the data we used in the negotiations with the union last year showed them among the best paid in the State (as with all of our other employee groups). Overall we ranked #5 (the same rank as with our teachers). Custodians are better paid in Darien, New Canaan, Ridgefield and Stamford (however, only Darien pays significantly more on average, and we pay more than Ridgefield and Stamford at some step levels). We pay significantly higher salaries to our custodians than paid by Westport, Weston, Wilton, Greenwich (!), and Fairfield.

  11. LWitherspoon

    @potaxpayer
    .
    I’m sorry you don’t wish me well. I have nothing against our school custodians, but I have a big problem with taxpayers being charged $10 for something that costs $5 elsewhere.
    .
    Regarding your wish that I receive a pay cut, I already receive one every year in the form of a City tax hike.

  12. Casey Smith

    @ Mark Chapman –
    .
    Could you verify whether or not the school custodians are limited to certain work areas? I’ve heard that they are assigned areas and don’t move outside of those boundaries.

  13. @potaxpayer, re this post: “@lwitherspoon, i don’t know what you do for a living and i hope your pay gets cut too. the costodians have been doing there job with no problems for years”.

    First, no current employees are having their pay cut. They are, in fact, getting raises. The privatization happens only by attrition — no one can be laid off under the contract. As employees retire or otherwise leave employment, we can then fill vacancies with contractors.

    Second, I wouldn’t agree that there have been “no problems”. A gap analysis performed for the NPS Facilities department by the American Institute for Cleaning Sciences (www.aics.com) in 2013 evaluated three schools (Brookside, Roton and Brien McMahon). It looked at the cleaning process, productivity, cleaning outcomes, tools and product consumption. AICS uses an overall rating scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the top rating and 5 the lowest. All three schools received a 4 rating in the evaluation. There is clearly room for improvement.

  14. Casey Smith — you’re probably referring to the jurisdictional boundary between NPS and City employees. NPS custodians maintain the interior of our buildings and about 6 feet outside them (for snow removal, etc.). City Parks & Recreation employees maintain the rest of the grounds, while DPW does snowplowing and the like in driveways and parking lots. While this generally works OK it does lead to confusion on occasion, and we are talking to the City about improving the coordination of these departments.

  15. LWitherspoon

    @Mike Lyons
    .
    Some time ago a commenter stated that Union rules limit the area for which one custodian can be responsible, creating significant extra costs for taxpayers if the square footage of a school doesn’t divide evenly by that number. Is that true?

  16. potaxpayer

    @mike, whats the rating on management of those schools.the mangements job is to make sure the custodians do a good job, like getting them the right tools,better cleaning chemicals or show them the what needs to be done to make the rating a 1, i’m sure everyone wants to do the best they can.and how would privatization do it better? do they have better management? @lwitherspoon we all pay eachothers salary no matter where you work,and your not going to get an american to work for $10 hr sorry.and we shouldn’t have too. we need to fight to bring more pay up instead of down it does not help. tax hikes, gas price hikes those people get paid , food hikes those people get paid, clothes go up those people get paid. everybody needs a job and everything is going up.i guess the way you look at it we all get pay cuts every time we take that debit card out of our pockets. thats whats makes the world go round. i don’t work for the schools either. i’m tired of all the budget problems taken out on the working people.

  17. potaxpayer

    @lwitherspoon with all the cuts norwalk has had in the past 5 years (and you can see by the dirty streets) and all the fee increases that most people don’t notice until its too late, taxes have not gone down or even stayed the same, why? because they will find other place to spend our money like raises for all the dept. heads that saved money.

  18. potaxpayer

    @mike i just chcked on trulia.com to see the school rating on Brien Mcmahon you said had a 4 rating for cleanliness with 5 being the worst, have you seen the rating on learning at that school? its a 3 out of 10 with 10 being the best. Darien high has a 10. how much do they spend per child compared to norwalk? is Darien management better? or there kids smarter? i know what i would be concentrating on if i was management in NPS

  19. I have just added a list of Fairfield County custodial salaries, as provided by Board of Education Chairman Mike Lyons.

  20. LWitherspoon

    @potaxpayer
    .
    I believe it is preferable to let the free market set wages and benefits, and then correct imbalances in a manner that benefits everyone. The minimum wage and earned income tax credit are two examples of ways to correct imbalances created by the free market, with benefits that apply universally to all workers. It’s unfair and inefficient to take money from City taxpayers and use it to pay a select group of workers significantly more than what they would earn the private sector.
    .
    With respect to your comment about cuts, I’m afraid that you’re dead wrong on the facts. The increased cost of wages and benefits for City workers is by far the single largest cause of increased City spending. See the budget on the City’s web site for proof – there is a section which clearly shows what drives spending increases.

  21. LWitherspoon, I am not aware of any practice limiting the area a custodian is responsible for; there is nothing in the contract that says this (http://p4cdn2static.sharpschool.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_71596/File/departments/HR/custodian%20agreement%20through%206%2030%202016.pdf).

  22. potaxpayer

    @lwitherspoon there is no free market place like you say for wages and benefits. the free market place is fixed to bring wages lower. really, do you see the illegals taking all the jobs that the middle class and highschool kids have in the past done? or are you in denial like most other people? we need to get our heads out of the mud and see there is a real problem and its not city workers. soon this town will be called New Mexico city. see all the mexican flags proudly displayed around the city?

  23. potaxpayer, regarding “whats the rating on management of those schools.the mangements job is to make sure the custodians do a good job, like getting them the right tools,better cleaning chemicals or show them the what needs to be done to make the rating a 1, i’m sure everyone wants to do the best they can.and how would privatization do it better? do they have better management?”

    Good questions. The overall (poor) ranking we received did not distinguish between management and the custodians, and I suspect it results from inadequacies of both. We are addressing the management side first by appointing new leadership of our Facilities group (https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2014/05/norwalk-public-schools-name-special-ed-administrator-facilities-chief), second by retaining Hillyard-Rovic to improve our custodial management and make sure that (i) tools and supplies are adequate and (ii) employees are properly trained.

    Regarding “how would privatization do it better?”, the basic answer is that a private contractor who fails to perform can have its contract terminated and can be replaced in short order. Try that with unionized employees. The City of Norwalk has been using a private contractor to provide custodial services in non-school city buildings (e.g., City Hall) for over 20 years; the buildings are well-maintained, at an average cost of $1.41 per square foot vs. the $3.56 cost paid by the school system for the same work.

  24. potaxpayer, re “@mike i just chcked on trulia.com to see the school rating on Brien Mcmahon you said had a 4 rating for cleanliness with 5 being the worst, have you seen the rating on learning at that school? its a 3 out of 10 with 10 being the best. Darien high has a 10. how much do they spend per child compared to norwalk? is Darien management better? or there kids smarter? i know what i would be concentrating on if i was management in NPS”

    I agree. This custodial issue is a minor sidelight compared to the major efforts needed to upgrade the educational program in Norwalk – and which is where most of my efforts and Dr. Rivera’s efforts have been concentrated. Obviously comparisons to extremely wealthy and monocultural Darien are a bit ridiculous, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot we can do to improve the Norwalk schools.

    In case you’ve missed all the efforts we’re making there, see by way of examples:

    https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2014/03/letter-a-status-report-from-the-board-of-education-2/

    https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2013/08/riveras-bold-move-appreciated-by-norwalk-board/

    https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2014/06/norwalk-boe-approves-plan-to-restore-decimated-central-office-beef-up-special-ed/

    https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2014/03/riveras-literacy-plan-given-go-ahead/

    https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2014/01/rivera-pitches-168-million-responsible-boe-budget/

    https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2014/04/a-first-for-connecticut-p-tech-academy-in-norwalk/

    https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2014/04/boe-approves-sonocc-after-school-program-memorandum-excessive-comments-squelched/

    https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2014/04/norwalk-schools-research-emergency-scenario-safety-preparedness/

  25. Missed one – this is the article on the Hillyard-Rovic contract on custodial supplies / management: https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2014/06/norwalk-public-schools-looking-to-clean-up-their-act.

  26. potaxpayer

    @mike i don’t understand what you said why there is such a big difference in the quality of education between Brien Mcmahon and Darien H.S. I graduated from McMahon. heres what you said ” Obviously comparisons to extremely wealthy and monocultural Darien are a bit ridiculous,” we spend 15,000+ per student and silvermine is a special school for spanish speaking students. i guess we can compete with Darien in sports but not a spelling bee. I wonder if Darien schools are cleaner?

  27. potaxpayer, first, I didn’t say “there is such a big difference in the quality of education between Brien Mcmahon and Darien H.S.” I said there was a big difference in the populations served by those schools. Are you seriously saying that the socioeconomics of the students in Darien HS are indistinguishable from ours? We have to address a population of students almost 50% of whom qualify for free and reduced lunch prices because of poverty, with a large population of children from non-English speaking households. It isn’t ‘social rocket science’ to acknowledge that we have to address the problems of students with disadvantages almost unheard of in Darien. Are you saying that if we switched the Darien teachers with Norwalk’s teachers that Darien’s student performance would suddenly collapse and Norwalk’s would skyrocket?

    What I agreed with was your statement that “i know what i would be concentrating on if i was management in NPS” — and listed all the initiatives underway here to improve education (as opposed to focusing on the comparatively trivial issue of custodian compensation). Here’s my view — I think Norwalk’s teaching staff is as good as Darien’s, and maybe better (having had to deal with a much more challenged population of students). What we have lacked is good leadership (at central office and a number of our schools), coherent core curricula, good staff evaluation / professional development, strong school organization / parental involvement, effective use of educational technology, and the like — all of which are now being systematically addressed by our Strategic Plan, multi-year budgeting, and other initiatives of Dr. Rivera.

  28. Bill

    Bad/lack of parenting and over paid unions are the only two reasons we have horrible test scores in Norwalk.

  29. MarjorieM

    If we are looking to save the taxpayer’s dollar, how about our highly paid superintendent? Is it true, Mike Lyons, that he not only received a 3% salary increase! but also receives a yearly annuity to the tune of thousands and thousands of dollars? Is that a rumor or is it true? I don’t know, but I would like to know.

  30. It isn’t “rumored” that Dr. Rivera gets an annuity (as all previous superintendents did, too); it was explicitly made public when his contract was approved. See https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2013/07/lyons-new-norwalk-super-wont-be-best-paid-in-state, and article that states what his annuity is, includes a linked copy of his entire contract, and is extensively commented on by one MajorieM. Also see https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2013/07/norwalks-next-super-is-manuel-j-rivera for his appointment in general.

  31. Oldtimer

    Mike:
    Calling custodian compensation a “TRIVIAL ISSUE” reflects your personal point of view, and it is exactly what the custodians believe the BOE thinks of their jobs. TRIVIAL to you, but ESSENTIAL to them. It is pretty sad to find yourself working for somebody who thinks your compensation is a trivial issue. You have led a very sheltered life if you have never experienced a job like that. A lot of average students have made the decision to work much harder in school to get away from those kind of jobs where the boss thinks they should be paid a trivial amount. Really successful businesses thrive on the morale of employees who know their compensation is not a “TRIVIAL ISSUE”. Henry Ford’s $5/day was a good example back then and still is. You still get what you pay for. Adding another layer between the BOE and the custodians (the company that hires them and sells their service for less than you pay now while that company’s management gets rich) will not get you just as good service. It will get you passable service from people continuously in search of better jobs, while they work two jobs to get by.

  32. MarjorieM

    Mike, thank you for your response. Perhaps I wasn’t clear. Does this annuity get added every year or is it a one time only annuity?

  33. Old Timer, in comparison to the real purpose of the school system — educating children — an extended debate over this custodian issue IS “comparatively” (my actual statement) trivial. No current custodian is losing their “essential” job. No custodian is losing any compensation. No custodian is losing any benefits. No position can be replaced except by attrition (quit, retirement, etc.). Our custodians are at the top of the pay scale in the State (higher than those in Westport and Greenwich, for crying out loud!). And they have morale problems because when they retire 20 years from now their job will go to a contractor?

  34. Regarding this comment from Oldtimer: “Adding another layer between the BOE and the custodians (the company that hires them and sells their service for less than you pay now while that company’s management gets rich) will not get you just as good service.” This statement is simply false. City Hall is very well maintained, and has been for decades. All by private contractors (with unionized employees) at a cost less than half what the school system pays. We WILL get as good (if not better) service, at a lower cost. And thereby free up funds for the primary purposes of the school system — educating children (e.g., with more teachers, better curricula, better technology, etc.).

  35. MarjorieM

    “We WILL get as good (if not better) service, at a lower cost. And thereby free up funds for the primary purposes of the school system — educating children (e.g., with more teachers, better curricula, better technology, etc.).”…… And freeing up money for NEXT YEAR’s superintendent’s 3% raise plus his extra annual $30,000 annuity…..and all the consultants, and all the new jobs created in central office.

  36. Mike Lyons

    Yes, those too.

  37. TG

    First of all, how cool is it that there is an American Institute for Cleaning Sciences?! 🙂
    Now, I am assuming that once these jobs are outsourced that the AICS will come in and evaluate the schools with the private custodians, right? I mean, we want to see if there’s improvement? Hopefully, we wouldn’t be satisfied leaving it at a 4 just because it’s a cheaper 4. Otherwise, it would seem that spending some time and resources correcting the problem would be more important than saving the money, if indeed we are looking to make every facet of our school system excellent. Since the community involvement and investment is an intangible that can’t be replaced (only look at Stanley Shuler- wonderful big hearted custodian- was at NHMS for years- don’t know if he’s still there), the cleaning ought to be a 1.

  38. TG

    And I completely agree that the salary for private custodians should not even be relevant. There are indeed many illegals and others in desperate job situations being taken advantage of because it is unskilled labor. Corporations can drive their profits up while pushing wages low for such jobs, but do we truly want the people who clean our kids bathrooms, trash, and puke, and who are out shoveling snow at 5 a.m. to be living in poverty?

  39. TG, we’re taking steps to establish regular monitoring and auditing of building maintenance, which will apply both to schools maintained by regular staff and to those maintained by contractors (https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2014/06/norwalk-public-schools-looking-to-clean-up-their-act/).

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