Maintaining the cleanliness of East is often more of a struggle than it should be. According to Janitor Steve Peck, most of the messes custodians have encountered this year are unnecessary. On a typical day, there’s graffiti scribbled onto the walls of the bathrooms, remnants of food left out in the cafeteria and papers strewn across hallway floors. Peck says one of the problems he has seen in particular this year is even as simple as wrappers left on the floor of classrooms.
For students and staff alike, fixing this problem can be as easy as using the wastebasket. Simple things, like throwing away trash, can help our janitorial staff immensely. There is no excuse for the extraneous filth.
This year, pitching in with the cleanup effort is more important than ever before. With cuts in the district, our custodial staff has been hurting. For the 2011-12 fiscal school year, the number of night-time workers has gone from 11 to 9 due to budgetary reductions. Janitors have had to cut out the third time slot from 10:30 – 7 a.m.; Peck has complained that there’s “less time to get it right.”
While the state board of education is not at fault for making a tough decision in a dwindling economy, it’s the reaction from East that has been disappointing. Janitors have not seen a decrease in any of the excess trash around the building. Graffiti is still prevalent and trash still clogs the halls. The problem, instead of slowly dying out, is staying the same.
English Teacher Laura Beachy notes that students in her class carelessly throw papers on the ground. She says she still feels like she needs to remind her kids to pick up wrappers and worksheets strewn on the floor. Across the building, janitors have seen more of the same. Peck notes that at the end of the day classrooms and halls are typically a mess. In this financial climate with layoffs affecting our custodial staff, it’s inexcusable that teachers and students are not carrying any weight.
Part of the blame lies with the administration. Although we applaud the various efforts made around East to keep the school clean–art murals in the bathrooms, environmental club–it is ultimately ineffective. The steps taken are only beneficial in the cleanup process, when there should be a focus on a preventive course of action. This could entail seminars or meetings where our school’s administration puts an emphasis on throwing things away and sidestepping graffiti.
It’s all about trying to change the way students think. Last year, when artists decorated the bathrooms with colorful images, students continued to write on the walls. When environmental club picked up papers, they found their way onto the floor anyway. And although it is far-fetched to think that the filth will disappear with a speech and a few handouts, some effort by the administration, and even teachers, can help to prevent the build up of trash in our building.
Beachy says that she always tries to be “at least somewhat vigilant about trash.” When students of hers get up to leave the room she makes sure that everything is accounted for; if there is garbage remaining on the ground then she sees that it is taken care of. It is this attitude that is lacking from our staff. If all teachers make some sort of an effort, custodial worker’s jobs will become that much easier. It’s the reasonable and right thing to do to help out our custodians.
In the end, they will take notice. Currently, janitors are spending a majority of their night picking up a mess that is carelessly left by students. This is not the only thing listed in their job description. Granted, janitors are expected to pick up trash, but there is much more to what they do. They are the ones who set up for events around East and coordinate with other schools for sporting events; the schools electricity and air conditioning is also left to them. When we don’t pitch in, the now nine-man janitorial staff can spend most of their nights scrubbing and sweeping up our excessive mess.
The solution is easy. Students, teachers and administrators need to wake up and begin to make an effort to keep the building clean. It is unacceptable to leave the bulk of cleanup solely to the janitors. Here at East, we need to display a little more effort and a lot more common sense.
Let’s start by using the wastebasket.