School Districts Face Continuing Pressure to Cut Costs
Custodial and Maintenance Work Has Come Under Increasing Scrutiny
According the NEA, some cost-cutting has been accomplished through minor improvements in efficiency, but there have been many short-sighted approaches to cost-cutting which are harmful to the school districts’ physical plants, to students’ education, and to the employees involved.
Custodial and Maintenance workers make up 16.9% of the public schools workforce. They are:
- Building and Grounds Maintenance Staff
- Custodians and Housekeepers
- Mechanics (except vehicle) and Repairers
- Laborers, Helpers, and Warehouse Personnel
- Non-Managerial Supervisors
These workers help keep schools buildings clean and perform tasks such as clearing snow, making electrical repairs, cleaning up spills, painting, maintaining boilers and other duties. One of their most important responsibilities is to ensure proper indoor air quality and uniform temperatures within the buildings.
Survey of Public Schools Reveals Concerns Among School Employees
The 30th Annual Maintenance & Operations Cost Study for Public Schools Revealed the Following:
- They admit they need better job guidelines
- 24% have no job description at all! For those that do have a job description, 69% admit they have no say about their job descriptions, and 59% often or sometimes must perform work outside our job descriptions
- They’re worried about privatization and the contracting out of custodial services. As school districts seek to control expenses, they say that their workloads are increasing, as are inequities among workers in their job group. They’re concerned about safety as they work with hazardous chemicals, ladders, staging, and with electrical hazards.
- They need health and safety information training to keep up with new equipment and work methods, usage of new chemicals, and with changing government regulations.
One ESP staff person stated, “There is a lack of meaningful, multi-tiered professional development programs and a real health and safety issue for the public school custodian — and the entire school community.”