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Prepping Buildings For The First Bell

August 8, 2012, 5:03 PM by Nicole Winters

Prepping Buildings For The First Bell
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

School buildings have been pretty quiet through the summer months.  While there isn't an abundance of kids walking the hallways, there's still plenty going on inside the buildings.

The custodians have been busy prepping for a new school year and that isn't an easy task. In fact, summer vacation is anything but a vacation for Custodial Engineer Robert Walkes.

"We’ve got a lot to do, but it's getting there," Walkes said.

Walkes and his crew are scrubbing down Oscar Howe Elementary School, from the light fixtures down to the floor.

"From the day teachers get out, we're busy trying to get the building cleaned up for the school year to start," Kevin Nelson said.

Nelson supervises half of the Sioux Falls School District's custodial staff. They've broken up into teams cleaning and moving classrooms, one school at a time.

"They pretty much have it down to how they need to do things, how they progress through the building and it's busy work," Nelson said.

Oscar Howe is the last building in the district to still have to undergo deep cleaning. While there's a lot left to do, the custodial staff is confident they'll have it done before the first school bell rings.

"The kids expect it so it will be done guaranteed," Walkes said.

It takes the crew about three weeks to clean each building. Oscar Howe is taking a little longer because of construction. But, most classrooms are cleaned and ready for teachers, and only a small portion of the building still needs attention.

"We’re down to a section where we're right behind the contractors. Once they get out we can get in," Nelson said.

While Walkes and his crew are looking forward to getting through the late spring cleaning, the work won't stop there. But, they'll at least have plenty of company making it much easier.

"It’s been a good summer, and we can't wait for the kids to come back," Walkes said.

The custodians working in teams is an energy and cost saving measure for the school district. This is the second year they've done it; they say it seems to work well.

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