When we hear the phrase “night life,” we typically think of time at night spent socializing with friends in a party-like atmosphere. Night life at Fargo Public Schools (FPS) can be fun, but it is more typically characterized by a team of hard-working individuals carrying out their regularly assigned work duties.
By Fargo Public Schools Operations & Maintenance Director Jim Frueh
FPS evening custodians typically report for their work “day” at midafternoon. From there, the size and type of the school determines when they leave for the day. For example, a high school custodian would typically work until 11:30 p.m., while a custodian at a smaller elementary school may finish by 10:00 p.m. or so.
A typical shift may resemble this: initially check in the with day shift custodial staff for any specific events or concerns, proceed to restocking any supplies, and then cleaning common areas until the classrooms become available to clean. At FPS, our standard of effort is that each custodial staff member is required to clean 28,000 to 31,000 square feet per shift – which is a lot of real-estate to clean! There is a variety of floors to clean: hard surfaces that require mopping, carpeting that requires vacuuming, and wooden floors that require yet another method of cleaning. Oh, yes, then there is a lot of glass to clean – our littlest students seem to be fascinated with what’s on the other side of the glass and just love to touch it with their hands and faces! Furniture also needs to be regularly dusted and washed, including desks, chairs, library and storage shelving, file cabinets, work tables, office cubicles, lighting fixtures, heating units… the list is endless.
Each classroom, storage or work room, locker bay, and commons area gets a deep cleaning in the summer, with the idea that we will maintain the room for the rest of the school. Depending upon the use of the room and it’s frequency of use, we may need to do additional deep cleaning throughout the year.
Many of you may not know this, but Fargo Public Schools partners with before and after school programs at our elementary schools, such as Fargo Youth Commission or the YMCA. When these programs are combined with the regular school day, some schools have children in them for close to 12 hours of every week day. And, yes, the FPS custodial staff cleans up after everyone!
FPS has a great staff and we appreciate those teachers who take time to have their students set chairs up on their desks at the end of the day or the week to allow the vacuuming and mopping to take place more easily in the classrooms. There are many more instances when instructional staff has made an effort to help their custodian complete a cleanup job – a big shout out to those who have gone the extra mile on our behalf.
As a good neighborhood partner should, Fargo Public Schools has also opened its doors to the public for any number of community events, in addition to our own school events. In recent years, the number of these events has skyrocketed. The FPS custodial staff completes many “setups” and “tear downs” or even just “clean ups” after gym use, classroom use, and common area use by others. It can be quite an effort and it must be completed before the next school day starts. Some of the space needs and requests come from school PTAs, Boys and Girls Scout troops, voting polls, community sports organizations, City of Fargo public meetings, and many more.
Fargo Public Schools also does an excellent job in partnering with the Fargo Park District to share spaces. By sharing venues, the tax payer does not have to fund each entity owning and operating their own facilities. An example would be building one common swimming pool dressing area, which the school district uses during the school year and the Park District uses during the summer months, while they each have their own pool operated independently of one other. Another example is gymnasiums: the Park District uses our gyms on nights and weekends when FPS is not using them for school activities. Of course, all of these areas need to be cleaned and maintained after every use.
In the wintertime, we need to add those special duties that come with that four-letter word, S-N-O-W, when all school building entryways, sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots need to be shoveled and plowed before the school day begins, in addition to all the regular cleaning efforts.
And, no matter the time of year, every night time custodian hears an occasional knock on the front door of their building and sees the peering face of a student who has forgotten tomorrow’s homework assignment in their locker, and has come to claim it.
Night time at Fargo Public Schools is when our 23 school buildings come alive in unexpected ways!