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GCA K-12/School District Honorable Mention: Catoosa (Ga.) County Schools

GCA K-12/School District Honorable Mention: Catoosa (Ga.) County Schools

K-12/School District Honorable Mention

Catoosa County Schools, Ringgold, Georgia


Number of students: 10,975

Square footage maintained: 1.25 million

Number of full-time custodians: 75

Annual cleaning budget: 750,000

Green cleaning team members: Doug Suits, Director of Operations; Paul Acuff, Environmental Services Manager; Teresa Farmer, Gene Lesley, Kelsan Inc., Janitorial Product Distributor

Last year, the district received an honorable mention in this awards program, listing these accomplishments: 96 percent of the products used daily in its schools are third-party certified; a rotating floor-care program that requires stripping and finishing every third year with top scrub and recoat being done between rotations; proper amount of entryway matting in each of our schools to prevent dirt from entering the building; and a recycling program in each school, which includes paper, cardboard, plastic and aluminum cans.

This year, the district instituted the use of microfiber mops, dust mops and cloths in each of its schools, which has helped to improve efficiency as well as save on chemical usage. In order to improve upon the recycling program, the district has progressed to a single-stream recycling program. This not only makes the task of collecting recycling easier for custodians but also takes the guesswork out of recycling for staff and students. In the cafeteria, trays can be placed in the recycling container.

Training is a very important part of the cleaning program and the district has developed a custodian certification with its supplier, which will help it to not only become more detailed with training but also aid in the evaluation of the custodial effectiveness. It works more closely with the environmental club at the three high schools, in an effort to involve the students and staff in the cleaning and recycling program. New auto-scrubbers use water only for cleaning floors, and all auto scrubbers that need to be replaced will be replaced with this type.

With all implementations, the district does an initial pilot at a selected school. This year, it has applied “green” floor finish at one of the elementary schools.

Future goals include the development of environmental clubs at the middle and elementary school levels. It continues to work towards CIMS-GB certification and evaluate its program against the requirements for this award. If all goes well with the green floor finish trial, the district will use it in all schools. It also will continue to evaluate the program and improve upon the knowledge of custodians to clean in a safe and effective manner.

Catoosa County Schools has written procedures, which ensures each custodian is on the same page and also is a valuable tool for training new employees. Having documented procedures enables the flexibility of moving custodians from one school to another if there is a need. We are constantly evaluating and improving upon our procedures.

To protect the health of students and teachers, major touchpoints are disinfected daily. These include desk tops, door handles, handrails and water fountains. Catoosa County Schools also started a school bus disinfecting program at the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year.

In the past, custodians were required to attend four training seminars yearly with a focus on green cleaning. This year, the district is taking this a step further and has instituted a certification program with its supplier. Each custodian will go through six to eight classes and will be tested in their comprehension of each class. The test will be both written and hands-on demonstration.

Innovative ideas are being evaluated constantly within the cleaning program. Its three-year rotating floor-care program has continued to be successful. In addition to using special floor pads and square scrub machines to strip floors, microfiber is now used. The goal is to continue to reduce the amount of chemicals used in schools. Anything that is brought into the school by teachers needs to meet criteria or is not allowed. Audits are conducted in each school based on APPA 5 Levels of Cleanliness and have a LEVEL 2 in each school. Each head custodian conducts daily walkthroughs of a facility to ensure that the buildings stay at this level.

The district places articles in the local newspaper to show the community its efforts to provide a safe and clean environment for children to learn. It recognized one of its schools this past year for having a perfect score on the facility audit.

The greatest recognition that the district could receive was a phone call from a parent thanking us for having a green cleaning program. Her daughter has asthma and she had noticed a remarkable reduction of asthma attacks and illness during the school year. This is what the program is all about, and gave the district tremendous validation.

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