Each school year is a fresh slate, but it also comes with new challenges. How does your team tackle entirely new cleaning challenges every school year?

Ames — Cleaning challenges always exist. We try to remember that group communication and teamwork is key, and staying flexible is a must.

Bartolone — We look at new equipment and new opportunities for training our staff.

Fewell — We tackle new challenges each school year by assessing each situation and completing whatever task is needed to ensure the health and safety of the university as a whole.

Krause — Communication and training are key. We review cleaning processes and products with staff, and we gather feedback and ideas on products. Our internal committee begins meeting again monthly to review, test and implement products and equipment.

Martinez — Every school year always comes with new challenges, it’s usually after school programs — either they add more after school activities or there are more students participating. In some schools they serve dinner or snacks. This does pose a new challenge for the night crew.

Murphy — Some schools face new challenges if they can’t find the staff they need and if they have had major construction projects. For the most part, everything stays the same in terms of workload. If they received a new principal, they may have new challenges in trying to accommodate their needs.

VanMaldeghem — I do not view each year as a “new slate” but as a new set of challenges. Those challenges are how to staff new, remodeled, and repurposed areas, and workloading additional spaces converted or created during the summer.

How does staffing change, if it all, during summer?

Ames — We have less staff during the summer months. Our 10-month custodians work from September through mid-June. The summer is also the time that 90 percent of our staff retire.

Bartolone — Many people tend to use their vacation time during the summer.

Fewell — Staffing does not really change during the summer months. The only changes are that temporary staffing is usually discontinued during the summer.

Krause — We typically have more overall – it’s divided in different ways.  For example, our AC crew installs, clean, maintains, and removes AC units from all Halls that don’t have built in AC.   We increase the number of painters in order to complete the necessary repairs and updates as well.  The Housekeeping staff is usually a lower number, but they work 40 hours per week as opposed to 8 hours, so labor hours dramatically increase.

Martinez — In our district we keep a full staff year-round in our High Schools and Middle Schools because of all the activities and project work that needs to get done every year. Elementary Schools we lay off our part time workers for the summer. This has been practiced for many years, but with our new buildings being larger, summers getting shorter and more summer programs implemented, we are going to make the case to keep our part timers year-round.

Murphy — The staff varies from school to school. Ideally, the schools work more people in the summer using up all their budget. This year, we have had a very difficult time finding people to fill positions.

VanMaldeghem — Generally, our staffing levels do not change during the summer months. With that said, we experience an increase in vacations scheduled, absences of staff members, and the like. These shortages in staffing affect the ability to complete all desired projects. Although undesirable, overtime is required to perform many projects. We also work with various vendors and contractors that perform some of the more labor intensive projects such as gym refinishing, window washing, extraction of furniture and auditoriums, and other similar projects.

What changes in terms of staff schedules/workloads once the doors open to a new school year?

Ames — When a new school year starts, we do detailed cleaning every night. All common touch points (desks, chairs, door knobs, etc.) are also disinfected nightly.

Bartolone — Staff schedules may change slightly once the school year begins and the focus becomes more routine instead of project based.

Fewell — Our schedule and workload does not change. We work the same throughout the summer with the same staff as we do during the academic year. The campus has to stay clean and safe for students, faculty and staff year round.

Krause — Overtime opportunities for full-time, permanent staff are extremely minimal during the academic year. Our student staff in housekeeping changes — we have more employees, but they typically only work 8 hours per week. Workload is much more routine for housekeeping. Staff have specific areas within their buildings/units to clean and maintain, as opposed to working as a team to cover an entire building or area for cleaning and servicing.

Martinez — The workload is not more or less, but different. Instead of working together on one shift to deep clean the school and work on summer projects, they go back to their routine of zone cleaning or area cleaning.
Each employee is assigned a certain number of classrooms, halls and restrooms to clean, it is usually split up into equal areas or zones of the school. Part time employees or sweepers are responsible for classrooms, offices, libraries, stairs, trash and recycling. The Night Supervisor who is a full-time employee is responsible for hallways, restrooms, and security, they are also responsible for training and supervising the part timers. The Head Custodian is responsible for opening the building answering the daily cleaning requests (spills, restrooms, throw up) setting up and cleaning up for breakfast and lunch, assisting students and staff, training and supervising his custodial staff, communicating and coordinating with principal, maintenance and staff.

Murphy — The workload changes for custodian once school starts because now they are going to be doing the same routine everyday, compared to summer where you are cleaning a different area/classroom everyday. The school year has much more repetition than the summer does.


Larry Ames
Director of Custodial Services
Virginia Beach City Public Schools
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Christopher Bartolone
Assistant Director for Facilities Services
Marquette University
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Virgie Fewell
Grigg Zone Supervisor of Building Environmental Services and Recycling
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Charlotte, North Carolina

Jodi Krause
Assistant Director Housekeeping
Residence Hall Facilities — University Housing
University of Wisconsin — Madison
Madison, Wisconsin

Ricky Martinez
Assistant Custodial Supervisor
Salt Lake City School District
Salt Lake City, Utah

Mycka Murphy
Custodial and IPM Coordinator
Certified Custodial Technician Trainer
Granite School District
West Valley City, Utah

Chuck VanMaldeghem
Building Services Supervisor
Facility Management Services
Rochester Institute of Technology
Rochester, New York

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