Long-running problems with ABM, the custodial service contracted by Volusia County Schools, will get better, ABM’s Vice President Christy Sampson promised.
“We apologize for our shortcomings,” Sampson said at a School Board meeting Oct. 12. “I think there is some accountability from a senior level. I was exhausted this year … But I see hope now.”
ABM representatives pointed to difficulties hiring and retaining skilled workers — a common refrain in many businesses — to explain why inspection scores have fallen slightly in the last month and why complaints of dirty floors and desks have risen.
Around 20 positions are currently open.
School Board members were less than impressed.
“I’m still disheartened,” Board Member Jamie Haynes said after ABM’s presentation. “There’s things that just have to be done. Everyday things like stocking soap, paper towels and toilet paper, and emptying trash cans.”
ABM has long been under fire from the School Board. It was bad enough that, before COVID-19 derailed plans, the School Board had considered canceling their five-year contract with the firm. The contract ends in 2023 and costs about $12.4 million a year.
Volusia Schools are now moving toward bringing the custodial program back in-house. A pilot program in 15 schools began in July 2021.
Board Member Ruben Colón said that unlike ABM, the pilot program is running smoothly.
“I look forward to the day when our custodial services will be in-house again and our schools can be clean,” Colón told The Beacon.