Parks and Recs considers cutting school maintenance costs

The grass is mowed, the bushes are cut and the ballfields maintained; not by the schools but by Chesterfield’s Parks and Recreation department. But Parks and Recs does not mow for free. Chesterfield County Public Schools transfers about $1.8 million to Parks and Recs to recover their costs.

Mike Golden, director of Parks and Recreation, said the department has 27 employees that take care of 60 school grounds maintenance. Mr. Golden said “about two-thirds of the budget pays for grass seed and equipment, snowplows and [supplies].”

After a request by schools administration, Parks and Recs looked at the savings which subcontracting the maintenance would save schools.  
Subcontracting maintenance would save the school system about $200,000, Golden said.

According to Golden, there are three options that could satisfy the needs of the school division:

  • Next year issue a request for a proposal to do the work Parks and Recs currently does for the school district
  • Revise the department current operations and keep the maintenance in house
  • Half of the sites are used for recreational purposes. Subcontract the recreational portion but keep the rest in house.

Golden offered additional information during last week’s schools/county administration liaison meeting: He said the maintenance on six schools is already being subcontracted due to their location in the County. Golden is concern about what happens after major weather events and how much that would cost the county because his department typically takes care of cleanup.

Getting help from volunteers, which happens quite often, is also a solution to lower costs.

“I believe in outsourcing, but what if you have a large group of Fort Lee soldiers come up and volunteer for some task? How would that work?” said Bermuda District Supervisor Dorothy Jaeckle. She also questioned subcontractor background checks.

Ms. Jaeckle was on the Committee for the Future when it was recommended that Parks and Recs should do grounds maintenance on school property.

Assistant Superintendent for Business and Finance P. Andy Hawkins, said schools had just completed an request for proposal for janitorial services.

“We should move as quickly as possible so our employees have time to move to other jobs in the county… This should all happen by July 1 next year,” said Mr. Hawkins.

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