A plan by Minneapolis Public Schools to reorganize the Plant Operations Department will result in the demotion of dozens of building engineers with corresponding pay cuts. Building engineers have many responsibilities from cleaning schools to the operation and maintenance of boilers. However, employees who are temporarily assigned for the task are not qualified for the position because they are not licensed for boiler work.
According to MPS Chief of Operations Officer, Karen DeVet, their plan is to ensure that employees who perform boiler work will have the proper licenses. It will also allow more custodial support in schools and save them money to overcome the challenge of a $28 million budget gap. The proposal is a version of the original plan that was presented to the School Board last 2012 where the engineer-in-charge position will be eliminated to be replaced a smaller number of team leader positions.
According to School Board chair, Rebecca Gagnon, there will be fewer licensed engineers but more custodians. On the other hand, both the engineers and teachers contend that a licensed boiler operator is critical in every building to ensure that someone will be onsite if something wrong happens with the boiler.
Since the buildings are rather old, it is critical to have constant attention from trained professionals. If something wrong happens with a commercial boiler, like a water leak or even worse, the problem has to be addressed immediately and not wait for the district office to send a professional technician to fix the problem.
In a statement issued by Minneapolis Schools Association of Custodians and Engineers, the members strongly believe that the budget for Plant Operations Department must be increased to allow for licensed positions to oversee the boilers. Schools have absolute need for a head engineer with a boiler’s license to be responsible for boiler operation.
Boilers must be regularly inspected for defects at least annually or according to manufacturer’s recommendations. If there are issues with the components, Boilers repairs must be undertaken by licensed heating engineers for safety. Regular servicing ensures that the boiler is operating properly without any risks of fires or explosions.