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Norwalk Public Schools looking to clean up their act

(Photo by Flickr user Robert S. Donovan)
(Photo by Flickr user Robert S. Donovan)

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk’s school custodians are expected to go green – and Norwalk Schools are expected to be cleaner – under a new contract up for a vote at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting.

Hillyard-RoVic, a Manchester company founded in 1956, would become the primary vendor to Norwalk Public Schools for three years as part of the Green Building Initiative, according to a memo written by NPS Chief Financial Officer Rich Rudl. This would “provide better products for use by our custodial staff, better training and operational improvements,” Rudl wrote.  Hillyard-RoVic would provide 90 percent of NPS’ custodial products and equipment in the arrangement, which is “fully budgeted in the FY 14/15 fiscal year,” Rudl wrote.

This is a joint initiative between Norwalk Superintendent Manny Rivera and Rudl, BoE Chairman Mike Lyons said in an email.

“The Rovic contract is designed to create operational and financial efficiencies (i.e., save money!), while moving in a ‘green’ direction (the priority being greenbacks),” Lyons wrote.

The contract is designed to address a disproportionate number of workplace injuries among the custodians, complaints from custodians about having inadequate supplies and audit results that have shown all school buildings are being poorly cleaned, Lyons wrote.

“An audit done last year said there is a lot of room for improvement,” Lyons wrote.

Highlights of the program, according to the memo, are:

• Custodial supplies would be dropped off to each school monthly with the goal of helping custodial staff stay within budget and have supplies on hand.

• Professional development for head custodians through access of Hillyard University, including training in Occupational Safety Hazard Administration (OSHA) standards, proper cleaning techniques and cleaning standards

• Work flow analysis of all 19 schools to enact an operational plan for cleanliness

• A set of facility-related standards and protocols to improve the cleanliness of each building

• Checklists for custodians, with enforced accountability

• Training materials to all custodians

• Facility audits to create a comprehensive baseline of cleaning levels

• Assistance with regulatory compliances; expert witness consultation during slip and fall litigation

Hillyard-RoVic would provide a risk management program that includes product liability insurance, quality control professional advice, safety and environmental concerns. All products are recognized national brand; most will be “Green Seal Certified” or Environmentally Preferred. The company would provide a chemical proportioning system to minimize waste and maximize proper usage and safety. If NPS does not succeed in buying 90 percent of its products from Hillyard-RoVic, it will be charged for the services.

An easier chair

Also on the BoE agenda is a change in the bylaws regarding board committees.

“The Bylaws proposal is to have the Board committees and their duties spelled out in the Bylaws,” Lyons wrote. “Oddly, Norwalk’s don’t spell these out (unlike most other towns’ Bylaws).  Periodically board members have complained about the plenary power over committees given to the Chair; this shifts that power back to the full board (though the chair will still appoint committee members), letting the board assign the committees’ duties.”

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