Due to the recent cut back in hours for the custodial staff, janitors are finding it difficult to get everything cleaned and organized by the time their shift is over. This year, East had to let go two members of the custodial staff. According to Ken Johnson, who has worked as a janitor at East for five years, letting go two staff members has made all the difference in work load.
“We have nine people to clean the whole entire building,” Johnson said. “And before we had 11, so we had to split those other two open areas up, which put more work on everybody else.”
If there is an extra part of the hallway or classroom that hasn’t been mopped or cleaned, whoever is still there by the end of the night is usually the one to finish the leftover areas. Sometimes, that turns into working unpaid overtime. Usually, there just isn’t enough time in the day or night to get everything done.
As Johnson arrives for his first shift from 3-11 p.m., he sweeps and mops the cafeteria. Then it’s time to set up for volleyball games or any school events happening that night. During his second shift from 5 a.m.-1:30 p.m., he takes on the hallways and his assigned area.
“This is a pretty good-sized building, and as far as a lot of the other things we’re doing like sweeping, dumping the trash, dusting–there’s just not enough time for all of that,” Johnson said. “Plus setup/breakdown for all the activities: football, basketball, cleaning up after. It’s kind of impossible to do all of that.”
English teacher Laura Beachy says that because of this, she spends class time and time before and after school doing small things that the janitors don’t necessarily have time for.
“I am all the time cleaning desktops, cleaning trash up off the floor, having students do that, picking up trash in the hallways and erasing the boards,” Beachy said. “Any spills, we [teachers] just clean up. A lot of things I don’t even think to contact a custodian, because I think ‘well they’re too busy and I guess I can do it.’”
She says that she really understands the custodial staff’s frustration because the time they are given to get their work done is not enough and that’s equally as frustrating for teachers.
“We’re kind of in the same boat,” Beachy said.
According to principal Karl Krawitz, public areas like the cafeteria, the kitchen, restrooms and locker rooms will remain being cleaned the same as before following the guidelines of Board of Health regulations.
When it comes to the noticeable things, Krawitz said that perhaps classrooms with tile flooring may not get swept everyday. Instead of dusting every other day, janitors will be doing it once a week and the glass may get wiped down only once a week.
“I think for the most part, people notice things in the high traffic areas faster than if you went into a classroom,” Krawitz said. “The strategy behind the plan basically means not every area is going to get cleaned every day.”
Sophomore Natalie Frische said the school seems significantly dirtier to her, and she’s noticed a change from last year.
“In the bathrooms, there are gnats in the trash cans, no paper towels, no soap, no toilet paper–ever,” Frische said.
“I think the janitor cuts are going to impact East because people will get sick more often, and talk and gossip about how gross the school is getting.”
This is the first year Krawitz said that they had to cut people, not just their hours.
“An eight hour day would be cut to a seven hour day or if they were working additional hours on the weekend, they couldn’t because it would put them in overtime,” Krawitz said. “And they couldn’t work those extra hours; we would have to assign someone who was working less than 40 hours.”
Maintenance Supervisor Mike Webb says there’s not much else that any of them can do.
“We have to prioritize the restrooms, locker rooms, fax area and the counseling office,” Webb said. “Basically, as for the custodians who are left, the area is divided up as equally as we can among them.”
Dr. Krawitz says that it’s not just the janitors, but all the areas of public education that are up for budget cuts. He says that if there is no relief found or put in place and we are only cutting more, then it’s going to be very difficult to maintain the integrity of the programs here at East.
“Eighty-seven percent of the budget in this school district goes to paying people,” Krawitz said. “If you’ve messed around with just 13 percent of the other budgets and you’ve cut them to the minimum–you can’t cut them any more, so now it’s got to be people from this other sector that have got to go.”
Dr. Krawitz said that could very well mean cutting more teacher jobs, more food service people and more custodians.
“I don’t necessarily see a whole lot of light at the end of the tunnel,” Krawitz said. “I’d like to hope that someone will have come up with a solution in three years. But the solution will have to happen in Topeka, not here.”