Custodians to work after school hours
LAFAYETTE — By the end of the next school year, all schools in the district will have after-school cleaning crews working to prepare halls and bathrooms for next day’s business of learning.
The switch from custodial staff keeping school hours began earlier this year at 11 schools for the district to test Superintendent Pat Cooper’s idea to have a core crew of custodians do their jobs when students have gone for the day.
As part of the new custodial program, one crew of custodians work at the school during the day, while another crew works from either 1 p.m. or 2 p.m. until about 9 p.m.
The pilot program included new cleaning equipment and supplies at an estimated cost of $362,930. The cost also included about $36,000 in new lawn maintenance equipment.
Cooper said he proposed the change because a more effective and practical model was needed. Hallways can’t be clean with students “walking in and out tracking dirt seven periods a day,” he said.
New flooring equipment is also rather large and will be operated when students are not in class, he said.
The 11 schools in the pilot program are: Acadian Middle, Carencro High, Evangeline Elementary, J.W. Faulk Elementary, Live Oak Elementary, Northside High School, N.P. Moss Annex, Paul Breaux Middle School, Thibodaux Career and Technical High School, the Vermilion Conference Center and the W.D. and Mary Baker Smith Career Center.
Last month, Lafayette High — the district’s largest high school — was added to the pilot program.
As part of the new custodial management plan, the district’s current 44 head custodian positions will be phased out through attrition and replaced with supervisors who will oversee a group of schools, Cooper said.
“We’ll have four evening supervisors, and they’ll each be responsible for 11 schools,” he said.
Cooper said that since the transition to the new system, a few custodians have resigned or retired; however, “we’ve not had any spikes.”
With the change comes new equipment purchases to move the jobs into the “21st century,” Cooper said.
Each school has new ride-on floor scrubbers and buffers that replace mops with rolling buckets and hand-held buffers.
“In 15 to 20 minutes, you can do a large area,” said Norma Davis, the custodial supervisor of the 12 schools in the pilot program.
The time saved can be directed to other tasks, she said.
“The thing, most of all, is the excitement of the teachers and them coming into a clean environment in the morning,” Davis said.
Lafayette High Principal Patrick Leonard said Friday the new program has been effective, but “we’re still in the tweaking mode.”
“With any kind of change, there’s always adjustments that need to be made,” Leonard said. “It’s working now, and it’s getting better.”
Some changes are obvious, he said.
“We come to school and the floors have a hospital shine,” Leonard said. “That’s the goal.”
In the upcoming school year, the custodial changes will be phased in at other schools across the district, likely at eight or nine schools at a time, Cooper said.
The total estimated cost for the new custodial system is more than $1.1 million.