Staffing shortages arise in custodial department

by Joseph Sweeney | editor-in-chief

While the campus typically operates with around 18 custodians, there are currently only six – with a potential of four new hires joining soon.

Campus custodian laying tape on the floor for social distancing.

A campus custodian places tape on the ground to measure for social distancing in fall 2020.

“It was a gradual process. Last year we would probably run between 14 and 16; It wasn’t quite as noticeable last year because we only had about 50% of our students on campus, but we did start to lose custodians last year,” assistant principal Steve Berg said. “This year it’s significantly more difficult to keep the campus clean and looking good.”

Cleaning plans have changed on a class-by-class basis to accommodate for the staffing shortages. Trash is still collected daily, though teachers have been asked to place trash cans outside their classrooms to expedite the process.

“At the end of every class, we’re making sure that all the trash is thrown away, double-checking, making sure all the desks are somewhat clean and that the floor is clean as well,” art teacher Christie Dallahan said. “At the end of the day, we are wiping down all the tables. We, the art department, actually bought our own mop so we can mop up spills or anything like that that happens in the class, just trying to help out however we can.”

These cleaning plans are also subject-to-change as COVID cases in the city continue to surge.

“When we put the COVID cleaning processes in place that did increase their workloads because they are going around cleaning classrooms where there may have been a COVID-positive case,” Berg said. “They’re always making sure that soap and towels and hand sanitizers are stocked up. That’s been the focus for the last year-and-a-half. Those COVID-safety protocols that we have in-place do make their jobs more demanding than they were 2-3 years ago.”

The issue has been reported district wide, though has been most concentrated in the Stone Oak area. 

“A lot of our custodians don’t live close to Johnson,” Berg said. “They’re traveling to other parts of the city, with gas being $2.80/ gallon, it can be a bit pricey for them to get out here for them to work.”

The district is currently working to hire more custodians system-wide. For more information, or to apply, visit www.neisd.net/careers.

“They’re lifting things and bending all the time, It’s a pretty physically demanding job,” Berg said. “If anybody’s looking to apply, we definitely encourage you to contact the district. We’d love to have them here at Johnson. We do try to do things to celebrate our custodians. To let them know how much we appreciate them, we’re giving them the football press box for one of our upcoming games where they can bring their families on a Saturday night, and they can enjoy football, the band, cheer and the spirit.”

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About The Author

Joseph Sweeney is a senior entering his fifth year as a student journalist. He now serves as the editor-in-chief of My Jag News and also works with Jag TV. When not in school, Sweeney can typically be found making sandwiches at the nearby Panera Bread.

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