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District campuses are moderately dingy, survey finds

Published: Monday, May 28, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, May 30, 2012 03:05

Down in the Dumps

Screenshot courtesy of The San Matean's YouTube

Video coverage of Down in the Dumps: The Lowdown on Trash.

Down in the Dumps

Photo by Greg Marshall of The San Matean

A Recology truck at CSM collecting recycling. Recycling is usually picked up once a month.

APPA Survey Data

Graphic by Ryan Patron of The San Matean

Garbage Contracts

Graphic by Ryan Patron of The San Matean


Map courtesy of Google

Route of Allied Waste trucks that pick up trash from CSM and bring it to Ox Mountain

Sanitation Timeline

“Moderate Dinginess”

It may not sound like much.

Here’s what it means: The district’s three campuses — CSM, Skyline and Cañada are not as clean as they should be, according to a group specializing in analysis of educational facilities.

That’s how our district is listed in a survey in which educational facilities are ranked on five levels of cleanliness ranging from “Orderly Spotlessness” to “Unkempt Neglect”. The voluntary survey, given by APPA, an association of higher education facilities officers, collects data annually from educational facilities in the US and Canada.

The district is at level four, which is second to last in the list of what APPA calls custodial service staffing levels. This level was self reported by the district.

APPA describes “Moderate Dinginess” as — “Floors are swept or vacuumed clean, but are dull, dingy and stained. There is a noticeable buildup of corners and along walls. All vertical and horizontal surfaces have conspicuous dust, dirt, smudges, fingerprints and marks...Trash containers... have old trash.”

This rating is based on an actual calculation.

“The determination of level four was based on the amount of square footage we have to maintain and the number of staff we have to maintain it,” said Jose Nuñez, District Vice Chancellor of Facilities Planning, Maintenance and Operations. “In round numbers, as I do not have details at hand, our 39 custodians are responsible for something like 45,000 square feet per staff member and the best business practice for instructional facilities is considered to be less than 20,000 square feet per staff member.”

This may be why the district is at a level four. To require each custodian to clean 45,000 square feet is the equivalent of asking them to clean an acre of land per day which can hold five to seven houses on it.

“Our goal is to clean all areas as often as possible,” said Bryant Evans, Custodial Supervisor at CSM. “We can’t sweep and mop everywhere every day but we try hard to keep up.”

The economic crisis and budget cuts affect facilities too and sometimes it’s the first to get cut.

“While I think we all agree that ‘moderate dinginess’ is less than optimal but it really boils down to a matter of choice,” said Ron Galatolo, District Chancellor. “Do we hire and retain custodians to clean rooms or faculty to teach classes?  While both functions are essential to the success of our colleges, under these extreme economic times, we have chosen to employ as many faculty as possible to address our unmet student demand in the classroom, while at the same time provide enough custodians and facilities staff to address the most immediate needs and maintain the facilities at its current level.”

Students and faculty did cite some areas at CSM that they would call dingy, but for the most part they found the campus clean.

“I honestly think it’s a really clean school and people work hard to keep it clean,” said Brionna Wallace, 20.

Students cited the older buildings as being the most dirty.

“The halls of Building 16 are filled with bottles and cans,” said Mario Gomez, 19. “We should take care of our campus.”

CSM President Michael Claire, who has been working at CSM for 24 years, remembers the campus falling into the “Moderately Dinginess” category at one point, he said. “However, I have seen a major change since we have completed our new construction. I believe that our entire community is taking better care of CSM because of the upgrades that have been made.”

Justin Eichner, Lead Groundskeeper at CSM was laid off from the grounds crew for the Sequoia Union High School District because of cuts.

“We could always use more  people, but compared to a lot of organizations we are doing well,” said Eichner.

Sequoia had fewer people than CSM and had even fewer after the layoffs.

“They have only about five people to service about eight separate campuses / facilities, where we have about 18 for our three campuses,” he said. “So, I feel pretty lucky to have my team.”

CSM has eight groundskeepers paid an average of $4,760 per month each, costing a total of $38,080 per month.

The district was one of the only California Community Colleges to increase square footage and add facilities staff to clean it. Most of the district’s sister colleges are losing staff while adding square footage.

“We continually strive to improve our service with the staff levels we have through insuring our equipment is functional and replacing as needed, creating and fostering an atmosphere of professionalism and teamwork and keeping in close contact with occupants and the administration to insure we are appropriately focusing our efforts on their areas of priority,” said Nuñez.

The district has made many improvements to their system to help raise our level. Karen

Powell, Facilities Operations Manager at CSM instituted a custodial inspection process in which a custodian does a checklist of one area every night.

“It’s the Hawthorne effect — just the act of paying attention made an improvement,” said Powell.

Facilities has also recently replaced a lot of outdated equipment through bond money from the construction projects.

“I don’t see us hiring more staff unless the economy and state funding improve dramatically,” said Powell. “So our mission is to teach.”

There is always room for improvement.

“The campus community should know that we need to help our custodial staff as much as possible by treating our facilities with respect,” said Claire. “Every dollar that we must spend on maintenance is a dollar less that we can spend in the classroom — so let’s take care of this place not only for ourselves but for those that will follow us.”

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