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School board reverses last week’s decision, votes 4-2 to extend $1.3M contract for sanitation specialists

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School board reverses last week’s 2-5 vote against the same contract

During a special-called meeting that was ostensibly held to discuss providing an option to allow quarantined students to participate remotely in their classes, Alamance-Burlington school board members voted 4-2 Tuesday afternoon to extend a contract for 36 cleaning specialists by 9 months.

ABSS chief accountability officer Amy Richardson told school board members Tuesday afternoon that a virtual learning plan for quarantined students will be presented during their next meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, September 27.

Meanwhile, ABSS will pay $1.3 million for the nine-month contract extension with The Budd Group of Winston-Salem to have 36 sanitation specialists wipe down frequently-touched surfaces at schools and on school buses, based on figures that ABSS assistant superintendent Dr. Todd Thorpe presented to school board members during their work session last week.

School board members initially voted to let the sanitation specialist contract expire as scheduled at the end of this month.

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The vote was a reversal of a similar vote held the week before in which the same contract extension had been defeated by 2-5, supported only by board members Wayne Beam and Tony Rose.

However, school board member Donna Westbrooks provided the crucial vote this week to continue the sanitation specialist services, while warning the administration and her fellow board members not to ask her to vote on the matter again.  She previously opposed extending the contract for the sanitation specialists, as Thorpe recommended last week.

Westbrooks reversed her position this week, voting to approve the nine-month contract extension, along with school board chairman Allison Gant (who had opposed it last week), vice chairman Tony Rose, and board member Wayne Beam.  Neither Beam nor Gant was present for the special-called meeting but participated by phone. Beam and Rose had been the only votes in support of the new contract last week.

Voting against were school board members Ryan Bowden and Sandy Ellington-Graves, who had also opposed it last week.

School board member Patsy Simpson, who had also been a ‘no’ vote last week, was present during part of the special-called meeting Tuesday afternoon but left early due to another obligation and therefore did not participate in the vote on the contract extension.

During this week’s discussion, Bowden and Ellington-Graves maintained their earlier objections to the contract for the sanitation specialists.

Budd also has provided routine cleaning services for ABSS since July 2018, often over the  objections of school board members who have repeatedly complained about the company’s quality of service.

Earlier this year, Westbrooks and her fellow school board members Ryan Bowden, Sandy Ellington-Graves, and Patsy Simpson asked Thorpe to issue a request for proposals from other custodial companies.

The contract extension for the sanitation specialists is now scheduled to run through early June 2022, based on information that Thorpe presented to school board members last week.

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