Employees Prepare For Students

Published 4:35 pm Thursday, July 23, 2015

CUMBERLAND — As schoolchildren’s summer break concludes — absent the deadlines of homework, exams and group projects — a group of professionals in Cumberland County has worked feverishly to prepare for their return.

And, it has helped that their supervisor is known as a clean freak, and gleaned his value of neatness and sanitation from his youthful days working on a dairy farm.

It’s an important value that Chip Jones applies as he oversees the cleaning and preparation of Cumberland County’s schools every summer for the coming year.

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As soon as the students and teachers left the school’s halls on May 28, entered Jones and his staff with mops, wax, buffers, cleaning supplies and tools in hand.

About 85 rooms, including classrooms, media centers and offices, must be cleaned in less than three months.

“I really start thinking summer cleaning in December.

Making sure we have all our products in line and everything we need … We have to get rolling to make sure we meet our deadlines,” he said.

Jones, the assistant superintendent of finance and operations who’s in his 12th year at Cumberland, says the first thing his staff does after the teachers and staff leave the buildings is to go through the rooms and get them ready for cleaning, which includes moving out every piece of furniture.

Floors are stripped, finished, waxed and buffed. Custodians also wipe down furniture and perform high and low dusting as well, he said.

Throughout the year, custodians are reminded to clean thoroughly so they can concentrate on the floors in the summer, which is a priority to Jones.

The same is done for hallways and offices. And, following summer school, some classroom floors may need work after the foot traffic they receive during the month-long summer classes.

“It’s got to be a well-oiled machine,” Jones said. And that machine’s got to be able to handle and adapt to change well — the elementary school’s roof is being replaced this summer, and for safety reasons, Jones didn’t want any staff members in the building, which means no custodians or cleaning taking place.

A few rainy days weeks back gave the division a respite — the roof work stopped and the cleaning of the floors started.

The cost of waxing the floors across the division is about $6,000 annually, Jones said, citing it as the largest material expense in cleaning for school next year. The estimated cost of scrubbing pads can reach an additional $2,000.

The division has four full-time custodians, and more are brought in on a part-time basis to help with summer cleaning.

Preparing the outside aesthetics is a different story, says Jones. Students, throughout the year, look after and plant different vegetation as part of their curricula. The division puts new mulch on the three elementary school playgrounds each summer, giving them a fresh look.

Jones said he relies heavily on Stuart Harris of the county’s maintenance staff, along with the custodians and Sandra Raymond, who assists with logistics.

In checking the cleanliness of the buildings after the custodians have put their shine on the floors and walls, Jones said he does a lot of walkthroughs in the morning hours, peeking into classrooms and gazing down hallways.

“I’m in and out a lot,” he said, adding that he takes notes on what he sees.

Jones said that while he’s no expert on waxing and buffing floors, “I know the difference between clean and dirty … I just know that the expectation that people have that things need to look neat and it needs to be clean.”