New custodial policy upset some teachers
By Holly Williams, Current Staff
This year, teachers returned from spring break to find that their classrooms had been raided: some of their usual garbage cans were missing. Surprisingly, this was not the result of a prank.
Over spring break, the janitorial staff at the high school removed about 100 spare garbage cans from classrooms as part of an effort to implement a new cleaning system. The goal of this action was to save time emptying the garbage cans, allowing more time to be spent on cleaning other aspects of the building.
According to Tom Frigge, the high school facility manager, all those unneeded trash bins “adds up to a lot of extra can liners, and a lot of labor wasted installing all the extra can liners and emptying all those extra cans every night.”
However, the fact that this change was not communicated in advance to the high school staff caused some frustration.
Judy DuCharme, instructional aide for the Academic Support Center, felt that this was unacceptable in a professional setting. “It’s ridiculous to do but more ridiculous not to notify us,” DuCharme said.
“The communication could have been better.”
– Tony Groh, custodial supervisor
East Spanish teacher Beth Kastner was also upset about this, as the garbage can removed from her room was hand-painted by a student several years ago. The garbage can not only made it more convenient for Kastner and her students to dispose of waste, but also helped students learn by displaying the colors of the Mexican flag and the Spanish word for garbage, “basura,” on its side.
Kastner was surprised that the janitors would take something so personal, and wishes that they had given teachers the option of combining their garbage into one basket each day. “I don’t expect the custodian to do extra work,” Kastner said.
For now, some teachers have been improvising. DuCharme even created her own personal waste basket by hanging a store bag on a hook next to her desk, a bag that she regularly empties into the Academic Support Center’s main garbage can.
According to night custodial supervisor Tony Groh, teachers are able to have extra garbage cans, but only one will be emptied each night. He had not been expecting such a great reaction from teachers over the change.
However, Groh acknowledged that the lack of advance word was a mistake. “The communication could have been better,” Groh said.
Groh estimates that about five hours of work will be saved each week on garbage collection alone, leaving more time to clean rooms properly, and he hopes that the school staff will eventually be able to see this issue from the custodians’ point of view.
Frigge explained this change was part of a larger overhaul. “The district as a whole has implemented a new cleaning system that has every aspect of cleaning this facility broken down into minutes. This ensures that all areas of the building are being cleaned properly and that nothing gets overlooked,” Frigge said.
Also removed from classrooms at this time were the white and green recycling bins used for bottles and cans, though the reasoning behind this change is slightly different. Due to the city’s new “commingle” policy, recyclables no longer need to be sorted between paper and other containers. All cans, plastic, paper products, and bottles can now be put into the rectangular green recycle bins in each room of the high school.
In the meantime, the white and green recycle bins have been returned to the school’s environmental club, SEED, which was responsible for originally obtaining the bins. The club’s adviser, West science teacher Paul DeLain, assures students that the bins will still have a good use in the garden, outdoor classroom, or in labs. DeLain supports this change and hopes that it will get people to recycle even more.
As for the custodians, the “commingle” policy will help towards the new cleaning system. However, the effort does not stop there.
“We’re still exploring more efficient ways of cleaning,” said Groh. “We’re always looking for ideas.”
(Photographs by Holly Williams, Current Staff.)