Education feature: Custodians put in long hours over summer

While most students, faculty and staff get time off for the summer, Clovis Municipal Schools custodians such as Lakeisha Lobstein wax floors, clean classrooms and remove gum from surfaces.

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks

Marshall Middle School custodian Lakeisha Lobstein of Clovis mows the grass Tuesday at Marshall Middle School, one of her many duties and responsibility as one of five school custodians assigned to the campus.

Lobstein said she likes her summer duties because they allow her to work closely with the other four custodians at Marshall Middle School. She said her crew only splits up time-intensive duties.

During the school year Marshall custodians work in their assigned areas and only see each other in passing.

"During the summer we just pick an area and make a list," said Lobstein, who joined the custodial staff at Marshall a year ago after hearing a positive story about working as a CMS custodian.

"We say 'this is everything we need to do in the school. Where do you want to start?'"

Lobstein said she is responsible for cleaning the following areas at Marshall during the school year: Nurses' office, teacher's lounge, computer lab, the auditorium and the staff bathrooms.

According to Lobstein, her summer duties at Marshall include: Stripping old wax off floors and applying new protective wax, polishing floors, cleaning hallway walls and windows.

Lobstein said her crew also spends much time cutting grass and weeds, trimming hedges and also helps touch up paint in some areas.

Lobstein said high traffic areas such as main hallways receive up to five coats of wax; low traffic areas such as classrooms receive about two to three coats of wax. She said her most challenging summer duty is floor maintenance.

"We have to strip the floors with this chemical and it's horrible," said Lobstein, "because the floors get like ice and you put special things on your shoes so you don't slide across the floor. The wax comes up in goo; it's like slime."

"If you're not paying attention the job can be very dangerous."

Lobstein said Marshall custodians work longer hours during the summer but get a three-day weekend.

John King, director of operations for Clovis Municipal Schools, pointed out that custodians are sometimes an overlooked component to the school system but are important to its safety and progress.

"Custodians are a critical part to the operations of each school and it's critical to have clean and healthy facilities for our kids," King said of Marshall. "If you look at the age of this building and walk through and look at how good it looks, that just speaks for the great staff we have and how hard they work."

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