The School Newspaper of Rouse High School

Raider Rumbler

The School Newspaper of Rouse High School

Raider Rumbler

The School Newspaper of Rouse High School

Raider Rumbler

The Custodian Shortage

District struggles to keep schools clean during custodial staff shortage
Conner Ford
Custodian Estela Herrera drives a floor polisher. Herrera has worked here since the opening of the school, for a total of 16 years.

Due to budget strain and the impact of the pandemic, there has been a shortage in custodial staff, with 80 vacancies according to KXAN. The district has attempted to solve this by increasing pay from $8.20 to $16.37 an hour. 

The school’s custodians work around 8-10 hours a day, but without a full staff, some classrooms aren’t being tended to.

“It affects our ability to run a school efficiently,” environmental sciences teacher Courtney Olsen said. “A lot of times as teachers, we’re staying after in the evenings trying to do our work. So, when we should be putting forth a curriculum or grading, we’re having to clean up floors, trash, find new trash bags, etc.”

Because of the shortage in custodial workers, it ends up taking much longer for something as simple as a spill in a bathroom to be cleaned.

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“We definitely don’t have a very clean school,” junior Olivia Garcia said, “ A lot of times, especially in the theater building, the bathrooms in there aren’t always clean.”

Head Custodian Victor Cervantes started working for the district 20 years ago as a grounds worker before he came into custodial work.

“The hardest part of my job as a custodian is to make sure I get everybody to know what they have to do on a daily basis,” Cervantes said. “To have a good team, you gotta make sure each person understands their limits. Organizing my people every day, [is the] main challenge. Saving a fully staffed team is always really good [and it] makes things a lot easier.”

According to KXAN, district officials say they have less than half (46%) the number of custodians needed to keep their campuses clean.

“I think we should be able to interact with our custodians more,” Garcia said, “I feel like we usually think of them as separate, like they’re ghosts. You know they’re there, but you hardly ever see them.”

When custodians come into Olson’s classroom, she makes time to converse with them. 

“I enjoy getting to know him, getting to know what it’s like whenever he has to travel back and forth [from Mexico],” Olson said. “We’ve gotten a chance to know a lot about each other’s lives.”

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