Cuts to school custodians have come at a cost

In the past few years, there have been issues with cleanliness of the classroom due to cuts to school custodians and the issue that our school water fountains don’t even have filters. Teachers and students have been making complaints but nothing has changed in the district. 


When entering any classroom you can usually spot either stains due to rain on the ceiling (see picture below), cobwebs, or dirt tracked into the classroom. Ms. Bornhoft has non-carpeted floor and her classroom accumulates a lot of dirt, and she frequently gets frustrated by how disgusting the floor gets. She commented on how custodians cycle between classrooms and schools, she admits, “It’s more efficient, but there’s no pride.” Her theory is if a janitor had the same classrooms to clean, she/he would put more effort into it and make sure she/he does a good job. Although it is easy to blame the schools custodian, they are not at fault. There are larger parties to point to. Due to the new cuts to the staff, only a few janitors are responsible for cleaning both Orcutt Junior High and Orcutt Academy.  While our own day custodian Bob Walling puts in excellent effort, there is only so much he can do with limited staff in the evening.


Spanish teacher Ms. Miller expressed her worries for her own room’s ceiling. Last year when it rained her ceiling leaked, leaving puddles on her table and carpet. Miller has multiple brown stains on her ceiling due to years of water damage. On almost every ceiling in every classroom you can spot at least one of these stains. I took a look through classrooms 17-24 and 6 out of the 7 rooms had stains on the ceiling.


Mr. Carter, the school principal, and Ms. Bornhoft have contacted the district about this recurring problem in the school, so hopefully we will see cleaner classrooms soon. 


Another issue with classrooms at Orcutt Academy is the water fountains. Most students and teachers settle with bringing water from home because they don’t want to drink the water from the fountains. Teachers like Mr. Dell’Armo, Ms. Stephenson, and Mr. Mason bring water from home along with most students like Winston Harris who brings his own water “because the water from the fountains is stank.” Elijah Stephenson also talked on the topic saying, “The water from the classrooms just tastes weird and people say all water tastes the same, but it definitely doesn’t.” 


Just last year we took a step in the right direction in buying a water bottle filling station for the hallway. This is a good starting point but most teachers won’t let you leave their classroom to go fill up a water bottle. The only reason that water is better is because it has a brand new water filter. Teachers like Mr. Gelotti neglect using the water fountain in their own room and fill up at the water bottle filling station in the hallway. According to “”, it’s recommended to replace school water filters every year but Orcutt Academy doesn’t even have water filters for classroom water fountains.  


However, with all of these issues, the true main problem with classroom cleanliness is that many students just treat the school like trash. Not only in classrooms, but people trash the bathrooms and leave trash on the basketball courts which doesn’t make our janitor’s job any easier. After lunch someone always leaves behind either crumbs or their lunch tray in all the classrooms. So you could blame the cuts to faculty, but in reality a major problem is how students disrespect classrooms and the campus as a whole. 


To solve the problem of classroom cleanliness I think both sides must help with the issue. Both the students and the faculty need to work together to defeat the problem. Students need to work on being decent and respectable people and pick up after themselves, not trashing the campus. I also think the district could hire one more custodian to help out with our campus and the junior high’s at night. [Update: At time of the submission, no changes were made. But as of publication, the district announced night custodians would return as the threat of coronavirus expanded.]


We need a way to hold each other accountable for doing our job and if students and faculty both do their part in keeping the campus clean, then everybody benefits in having a better learning environment. This year’s season of service competition that is held by ASB is a step in the right direction by encouraging students to clean the classrooms and the whole campus.