Long hours are needed to produce 'spotless' buildings come September

JASPER — George Gershwin didn’t write “Summertime and the living is easy” for the custodians who use July and August to clean every inch of the interiors in the dozens of public school buildings that punctuate the Southern Tier.

Patti Gross, Jasper-Troupsburg head custodian and staff plus their alter-egos throughout the region, move furniture into hallways, clean every square inch of hundreds of classrooms, change defective lights and make plumbing and electrical repairs while groundskeepers mow rain-irrigated lawns and prepare athletic fields for fall sports and the start of the 2019-20 first semester.

Those final two school year months, of course, are preceded by activities from musical events to final exams and graduations.

Traditional warm summers for most of those staff mean working around summer school classes and prying chewing gum from desk and chair bottoms while scheduling all that work around summer school classes while coordinating the inevitable capital projects, Gross said.

If that sounds like an organizational nightmare, it is, Gross admitted.

But there’s more, Gross said. Church affiliated Rise, a non-profit group from New Jersey, includes some 50 to 60 high school students and their adult coordinators who use Jasper-Troupsburg and classrooms from another quartet of area schools as sleeping quarters while helping elderly and disabled area residents plus school cleaning activities, Gross said.

Another area summer program employs youth to help with school cleaning. The Pro-Action sponsored plan helps kids learn valuable adult lessons such as “don’t stick well-chewed gum on the bottoms of classroom chairs and desks,” Gross said.

If the youthful workers complete their assigned tasks early, they paint rooms or help with landscaping the Jasper-Troupsburg campus or any of the dozens of tasks on the school “to-do” list.: “We always have projects to work on,“ the district head custodian said.

The crew who work at the Troupsburg Elementary School building also clean the bus garages. In addition to traditional scholastic and interscholastic athletic activities all year, the district sponsors men‘s basketball twice weekly during the season and weightlifting, Gross said.

Gross admits that the schedule is on-going but staff “take pride in their work” so the school buildings are spotless, come September.

She said staff work from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. daily and that on school days her typical work day is 12 to 14 hours.

“That’s pretty much the work schedules that staff at other schools keep,” she said.

Those sentences are probably the clearest explanation of why area schools are typically spotless, she said.