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P.S. 39 wants a clean sweep - Parents push DOE to hire new custodian

Brooklyn parents want their schools cleaned up.

Members of District 15’s Community Education Council (CEC) passed a resolution asking that a full-time custodian be placed at P.S. 39 Henry Bristow School, located at 417 6th Avenue in Park Slope.

“P.S. 39 is now sharing a custodian with the three schools at the John Jay Campus [on 7th Avenue],” the CEC wrote in the resolution, which is being sent to the city Department of Education’s (DOE) Tweed Courthouse headquarters in Manhattan.

It continues, “Since P.S. 39 lost its full-time custodian, there has been a flood in their basement that inundated their lunchroom and their only student bathrooms with four inches of water and there have been two gas leaks that required the response of nine fire engines.”

Margie Feinberg, a DOE spokesperson, said P.S. 39 does have a maintenance worker in the building.

“[P.S. 39] continues to have a full-time person on site although they are not a full-fledged custodial engineer,” she said.

Feinberg explained that principals – and not the DOE – determine how individual schools spend their budgets. That means that P.S. 39’s principal could hire a full-time custodian if she wants to.

“Principals have discretion to hire a full-time custodial engineer,” Feinberg said.

But in a time when school budgets are being cut, principals must use their funding for academic resources, parents say.

That leaves principals with no choice but to share a custodian with another school. But Feinberg said that setup should work.

“Our custodial engineers are really building managers who under the contract can handle more than one building,” she said.

In the case of P.S. 39 and the John Jay Campus, Feinberg explained, “The custodial engineer has full-time responsibility for two sites in a merge situation. It has proven to be very efficient as the larger school can employ more resources into the smaller school and has more resources at their fingertips, especially in emergencies.”

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