Like many businesses that have been downsizing, the North Tonawanda School District is about to implement a plan to do more with less when it comes to cleaning school buildings.
Stephen Scordato, district buildings and grounds superintendent, said he has to do something because he has lost five custodial and cleaning personnel during the past five years.
They retired and were not replaced, he said, yet he still has the same amount of work to get done.
To compensate, Scordato said he will kick off a program in January that divides his cleaning staff into four-person teams that will systematically clean schools.
It's called "team cleaning" and involves four specialists on each team: a light-duty specialist, a vacuum specialist, a restroom specialist and a utility function specialist.
He said he will start off using the team concept with two teams at North Tonawanda High School. He also may form a specialized floor-care team that will go from school to school to do all the gymnasiums.
"Right now, everyone does an area all by themselves, and we can't depend on the work being done in a consistent manner or in a consistent amount of time because each individual works at a different pace," Scordato said. "By working in teams, the process makes it consistent. We know the work will be done in a certain amount of time."
"This is a proven process in this industry," he said.
It also contains a system of checks and balances to make sure nothing is missed and buildings are genuinely clean.
Currently, Scordato said, it's difficult to have each person's work inspected to make sure nothing is forgotten for lack of supervisory personnel. But under the team concept, each specialist will follow the other from room to room, hallway to hallway, restroom to restroom and check to make sure nothing has been missed.
It's like having a double set of checks and balances that will be followed with a final inspection by a supervisor.
"The light-duty specialist will hit a room first," Scordato explained, "dusting, emptying the trash, spot cleaning and disinfecting and wiping surfaces. When that job's done, the vacuum specialist will follow and do the carpeting and hard floors, sweeping and vacuuming and checking the work of the person who went before."
The restroom specialist will sanitize and clean the restroom areas, locker rooms and shower rooms, disinfecting them and hosing them down, along with the swimming pool area. The utility function specialist will clean all the common areas such as the lobbies and hallways, and clean floors with heavy equipment.
The strategy should serve to clean buildings faster and more efficiently and cut down overtime, Scordato said.
"We should also save energy because we'll only need to have the lights on in areas where a team is working," he said.
Currently, with each person working separately, lights are on all over the school.
Scordato also hopes the process will cut down on cleaning supplies.
"There is an old saying in this business," he added. "People don't know what we do until it's not done."