A large private company that oversees janitorial and custodial services for the East Baton Rouge Parish schools system is promising to cut $500,000 annually from its $26.1 million operations in exchange for a two-year extension on the contract that is scheduled to expire in 2014.
The Philadelphia-based Aramark said the cuts will amount to $1.8 million over a four-year period.
The company also is promising to put up an additional $1 million unrestricted grant — $750,000 this year, $250,000 the next — that would help the school system’s bottom line.
The school system cut about $33 million from its general operating budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year and, at last estimate, was looking to cut another $34 million for fiscal year 2012-13.
The School Board, meeting as a committee of the whole, voted 9-2 to recommend changing the contract.
Board members Connie Bernard and Evelyn Ware-Jackson voted against the change.
The board plans to vote on the contract change formally on Oct. 20.
At that meeting, the School Board is also scheduled to consider locating a long-planned $17 million career-oriented high school campus on a 200-acre mixed-income housing development located in the Smiley Heights subdivision in the Melrose East area of Baton Rouge.
Aramark gave a presentation to the School Board on Thursday.
Aramark representatives indicated the company would meet its goals through employee attrition, but said some layoffs are possible if the company deems it necessary.
“We’re taking our time to see what happens through attrition,” said Terrance Ransfer, a vice president with Aramark.
In the process, the company is pledging to “maintain current quality and standards.”
Aramark’s budget-cutting effort was prompted during the system’s budget-cutting debate in the Spring.
Ransfer said Aramark said the company will use similar strategies as the school system used when it turns to its own 260 employees in Baton Rouge and 400 part-time night contractors.
NEW SCHOOL: The Smiley Heights redevelopment project is one that city leaders have been envisioning for more than five years.
A key component of the project is both the system’s new career school and an eastern campus of Baton Rouge Community College would locate on the site.
Walter Monsour, executive director of the parish Redevelopment Authority, which is leading the project, gave a presentation to the board Thursday.
Monsour said the authority has purchase agreements with all 11 property owners, including Tulane University which owns half the property.
BRCC is planning to put a transportation and automotive training program on the Smiley Heights property. That is planned as a $13 million, 60,000-square-foot facility.
The career high school the school system plans to build will house the Career Academy, a charter school that opened in August on the closed campus of Brookstown Elementary School.
The goal is to grow the school to 700 students, with about half going to school full time.
Board member Jerry Arbour said he was concerned that the housing development will be finished by the time the career center is built.
Monsour acknowledged that, but said the redevelopment project still has hurdles.
“When you deal with the U.S. Army Corps of engineers, you may end up ahead of us,” he quipped.
Monsour said that a delay, if it arises, doesn’t faze him.
“If it takes a little more time to do it right, that’s acceptable. We want to do it right,” he said.
NAMING BRHS: The board also heard but took no action on a proposal by a new foundation set by alumni Baton Rouge High School to raise money for that school by selling the naming rights to parts of the school. The board plans to vote on the proposal Oct. 20.
The 85-year-old high school is being rebuilt and expanded and will reopen in August 2012. The school has temporarily relocated to the Lee High School site.
The foundation’s proposal lays out suggested prices for donors who want their names on rooms in the rebuilt high school, ranging from $10,000 for individual classrooms to $500,000 for the gym and the auditorium.
Hank Saurage, representing the new foundation, said the money raised will be used to better outfit the school system’s flagship high school.
“We have a lot of support, we have a huge committee working on this and we want to see it happen,” Saurage said.