School Facilities: Cleaning Victories & Robots

by | Jun 6, 2024

Audit results show marked improvement in cleanliness at EG schools

When Covid hit, everyone was talking about cleaning surfaces. That particular discussion has never been far from front of mind for EGSD Facilities Director Bob Wilmarth. Keeping the EG school buildings clean is an ongoing battle. On the front lines are the district’s custodians – there are 20 full time and 2 part time custodians when the district is fully staffed. 

In 2020, Wilmarth asked for funding for a cleaning audit by Core Management Services along with the temporary extra cleaning help because of the pandemic. Core conducted that initial audit and yearly follow ups as well as providing a software platform called Smart Inspect. Of the past four years, the cost has been around $40,000, Wilmarth said. 

In May, Wilmarth presented findings to the Facilities Subcommittee meeting and there was some good news: Every building is scoring higher.

“I’m proud to say that the scores are exceeding our expectations,” he told subcommittee members. “They’re doing really, really well. Our average score went from a 74 to an 85. Almost all of the schools had double-digit increases in terms of their performance and scoring metric.”

Not that things are perfect or even near it. “Our buildings are still dirty,” he acknowledges. To put it more clearly, when the schools were at 74, they were in Core’s “moderate dinginess” level (4th out of 5). At 85, they are now in the “casual inattention” level (3rd out of 5).

Still, even Core was surprised, said Wilmarth, and asked if they could make a case study of EG’s results. Wilmarth’s answer: Yes please!

The improvements are particularly significant because the district is not fully staffed and hasn’t been for a while. According to Wilmarth, it’s gotten much harder post-Covid to fill vacancies. Two positions have been vacant for an extended period of time, he said adding, “Most of the year we had five custodians out for various long-term medical issues. Along with a varying number of custodians out daily for normal sick or vacation reasons.” 

He said vacancies are filled “to the extent possible” with substitutes and maintenance personnel who fill in (leaving their maintenance duties to pile up). New auto scrubbers (i.e. robots) are coming to the high school this month and should help. The two auto scrubbers (cost: $30,000 each) will clean floors, leaving the EGHS custodial staff free to handle other cleaning jobs. 

“The floors in the hallways are the first thing to get skipped if we are low staff,” Wilmarth told the Facilities Committee. “The auto scrubbers will take that job. And they can do the work overnight. It’s a real force multiplier.”

Wilmarth said they will be trialed over the summer and ready for regular use when school is back in session. 

The Smart Inspect program from Core has been easy to use and the feedback is easy to understand, Wilmarth said. When he inspects a school, it takes maybe 20 minutes and he notes the deficiencies – say, dust on the floor in classroom A and dirty windows in classroom B. 

“And within minutes after I’m finished putting it in my phone, not only does it capture all of this data but it’s sent to them [the custodians],” he said. 

He said it’s creating some positive competition between schools. “I think it’s all helping to bring everybody up. For a long time, cleaning was the last thing anybody ever talked about. Nobody cares about the custodians, right? … But we’re bringing it up a little bit to the front and people notice and they appreciate it.”

The results, he said, are “something we should celebrate.”

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Marie Hennedy
Marie Hennedy
June 7, 2024 9:23 am

EG Custodians: the BEST!

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