District looking into cleanliness of schools

Consultants will conduct a sweeping review of janitorial services in Nanaimo school district in the coming months.

Consultants will conduct a sweeping review of janitorial services in Nanaimo school district in the coming months.

After trustees increased the square footage per custodian as a money-saving measure last spring, concerns were raised about whether custodians would be able to keep schools adequately clean and the board asked staff to prepare a report on janitorial services that addresses staff, workload, safety and costs.

Pete Sabo, the district’s director of planning and operations, said staff felt an independent review would be most appropriate, rather than staff reviewing their own operations.

The review is expected to cost between $20,000 and $25,000. It will compare janitorial workloads in Nanaimo with six other districts and the provincial average, as well as review some janitorial runs in the district for workload and cleanliness.

The report will also examine: the cleanliness of a sample of schools and compare the results to industry standards; the organization of the janitorial department; and other issues such as cleaning products, storage, absence control, cleaning processes and shift hours.

Trustees Jamie Brennan, Nelson Allen and Sharon Welch raised concerns about paying a consultant to do the work, as the loss of 1.5 janitors this fall only saved about $74,000.

But cuts to janitorial services come up each year, said Sabo, and the report will ensure trustees have a good idea of how worker safety and school cleanliness will be affected by further cuts.