Archive for Friday, July 9, 2010

District uses ‘team cleaning’ to prepare Lawrence schools for fall classes

Erik Haden peels tape from a desk at Central Junior High on Tuesday, July 6, 2010. Haden was one of several custodians working to clean the school before students return in August.

Erik Haden peels tape from a desk at Central Junior High on Tuesday, July 6, 2010. Haden was one of several custodians working to clean the school before students return in August.

July 9, 2010


Fewer custodians sharing more work

With budget troubles plaguing area school districts, custodians are in short supply. To combat the depleted force, custodians will be teaming up to tackle the cleaning that needs to be done. Enlarge video

Lawrence school custodians have enough catch-up work to do every summer.

“Students like to stick gum under the desk and under their chairs,” said Eric Carroll, head custodian at Central Junior High School. “So we get that stuff.”

With the buildings practically empty, it’s about the only time they can get their scraping and other intensive cleaning efforts in before students return in August.

When budget cuts forced the Lawrence district to reduce its custodial staff by 20 percent going into last year, it made the busy summer task of scrubbing down the schools more daunting.

So administrators looked to a concept some other Kansas districts were using known as team cleaning. Custodians from multiple schools work together to clean one school for two to three weeks before moving on to the next one.

“We had to find a way to get these buildings cleaned and maintained with the existing staffing,” said Tom Bracciano, division director of operations and facility planning.

To see how team cleaning worked elsewhere, district administrators even visited Hutchinson schools, where a system has been in place for about four years, Bracciano said.

He said it’s working well so far in Lawrence. Carroll and six other custodians are part of a team that cleaned for three weeks at South Junior High School. Now they are working at Central. When the team is done, they will move on to Lawrence High School. Because Carroll was named head custodian recently he will stay at Central and finish up there.

Another secondary school team of seven custodians is on a circuit to clean Southwest and West junior highs and Free State High School. Three other teams of six custodians are working at five elementary schools each throughout the summer.

In addition to the teams that travel among buildings, a few custodians remain full time in each high school building all summer to prepare for the cleaning team. At least one custodian also remains at each junior high and elementary school.

“The more people you put in, the faster they’re able to get things done, so it just builds on itself with each person,” Bracciano said.

Administrators say crews are able to get plenty of work done in classrooms in a shorter amount of time. It also means less experienced workers can learn from others who’ve been around.

“We get a chance to work with people from other schools. We get to make new acquaintances,” said Carroll, who started with the district in 2008. “And I like the team cleaning because a lot gets done.”


formerlyanonymous 7 years, 10 months ago

Smart thinking.

Shouldn't students be held accountable for keeping their work area clean? I remember stacking my chair on top of my desk at the end of every day, and scrubbing my desk and chair at the end of every week. I think making the student clean up their own nasty gum is an effective deterrent to further gum issues.

jackson5 7 years, 10 months ago

District administrators (note the plural) had to take a field trip to Hutch to see how the janitors clean in the summer?

friendlyjhawk 7 years, 10 months ago

Exactly my thought! Probably would have been a better field trip if the schools were in California, Florida or NYC.

hail2oldku 7 years, 10 months ago

I seem to remember having to scrub my own desk clean on one of the last couple of days of the school year when I was in grade school and jr. high. We would be given our year books or final grade card before it past inspection by the teacher.

tomatogrower 7 years, 10 months ago

You can't hold their grade cards now for any reason, even if they've destroyed an expensive book, and won't pay for it. I guess there was some parent who sued a school. Schools have been stripped of any powers.

Kookamooka 7 years, 10 months ago

Why did it take so long to figure this out? Other districts have been doing this for years.

Alceste 7 years, 10 months ago

" cleaning..."? Read "Individual exploitation"....or government speak for " more work with less people....".

What is incredible about all of this is reality is the FULL ON LACK of support or "solidarity" from the ever so protected "teachers" with their fellow staff members who make up the custodial staff.

While "teachers" get "protection" from their "union"....they leave the custodial staff out to dangle and twist in the wind.

Not only are the custodial underpaid....they also lack the same "union representation" that the "teaching staff" have.

WHERE are the teachers when it comes time to supporting their co-workers? Oh....yeah....right....they are on summer break and at Disney World with the kids or in Italy if single. RIght on. spit

Nathan Anderson 7 years, 10 months ago

The author of this article is nutz if he thinks the HSs are practically empty. Summer school, football/basketball/cheerleading/volleyball camp, summer conditioning programs, tournaments and other special functions, etc.

Amy Heeter 7 years, 10 months ago

If it were really " Team Cleaning" administrators, teachers & office staff would be there too.

Shane Rogers 7 years, 10 months ago

I remember when I was in high school, the state had a summer job program for us low income family types.....there were quite a few of us who worked at each of the schools doing custodial type work. I scrubbed and waxed floors, moved furniture, painted, etc etc. All for minimum wage for about 30-40 hours a week. Why don't they do something like that here? Of course, while I was in high school I also worked at the school doing custodial work, before and after school - for much, much, much more than minimum wage (though only three hours a day and paid once a month, ouch).

Kathy Theis-Getto 7 years, 10 months ago

I agree edjayhawk. Chalk it up to willfull ignorance, I guess. It is obvious most people have no idea what goes on in a school setting, how the union works, or the difference between a certified and classified employee.

This is a great idea and it will work.

momfromlawrence 7 years, 10 months ago

If you have never done the job before, then you cant say whether it works or not. It takes someone who KNOWS the job to be able to lead those custodians. If they really talked to the custodians, then they would know how they feel. Why take them out of their buildings to work on someone elses when they are needed in their buildings. Also, they are wrong about leaving a full-time in each building. There are some that only have a part-time to begin with. What may work for another district don't always mea it will work for another. Especially when the buildings are still having activities going on after the team had gone through to clean. What a joke this is!

volunteer 7 years, 10 months ago

I agree this is a very second-guessed school district. First time Dr. Doll calls off school for icy weather there will be dozens of angry posts.

But when the supt can't or won't eliminate central office administrative positions by combining some of the duties...(as Topeka's superintendent did right off the bat) perhaps some cynicism is deserved.

It would not hurt for teachers to have students turn their desks upside down the last day of school and pass out some paper towels and spray cleaner, perhaps those surgical rubber gloves. The kids know what's going's the Recession. They can help out a bit more than usual, as the students in some of the rural schools do.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.