064. Caretakers should be paid directly by the DES

Caretakers are paid from an ancillary grant, which is given to all schools by the Department of Education each year based on the number of pupils enrolled in the school the previous year. This grant is also supposed to cover the wage of all ancillary staff including secretaries, etc. but, in general, it doesn’t cover even one of those costs unless a school pays less than minimum wage. For whatever reason, secondary schools receive a higher rate of ancillary grant than primary schools no matter what their size.

Effectively, caretakers should simply be paid directly by the Department of Education in the same way teachers and SNAs are paid directly. There should be a scale of pay relating to the size of the school (number of classrooms, not enrollments) and this should be paid directly. Here’s a suggestion:

For every 16 classrooms, there would be one full-time caretaker, at 40 hours per week. Caretakers and cleaning staff sometimes happen to be the same person so for situations like this, a caretaker/cleaner should be paid based on number of classrooms. (I would suggest one full-time cleaner per 16 classrooms is adequate too.) Therefore an 8 classroom school could hire a full-time caretaker/cleaner as these positions could be brought together or they could get a part-time caretaker and part-time cleaner for 20 hours per week each. 

Caretakers are generally also given jobs outside of the classroom, such as landscaping or simply cutting the grass. It is only right that caretakers are given extra time per week depending on the extent of the landscaping. Again, decisions on this might be arbitrary but 1 hour per week for a football pitch seems reasonable given that the grass doesn’t grow for some of the year.  Perhaps acreage might be a better measurement. Every acre might be worth a number of hours per week – let’s say 1 hour for every acre, again remembering that for some of the year, landscaping is limited. These are just ideas so it would be great to hear other ideas. 

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