DUCT TAPE WARS: Tuttle Elementary School custodians Blondel Alexandre, left, and Gilda Williams participate in a team-building exercise called Duct Tape Wars during Custodial Day activities at Riverview High School on July 2. Click here for more photos.
SARASOTA COUNTY, July 7, 2014 – About 320 Sarasota County School District custodians converged on Riverview High School on July 3 for the district’s annual custodians professional development day. They each selected five sessions to attend from 21 different classes.
The subjects they studied ranged from cash management to CPR and defibrillator use to fire safety and security to Internet navigation. Many other classes focused on subjects that would benefit them and their families such as preparing for retirement, nutrition, home repair and health insurance.
District Energy Manager Alisha Burris, who helped organize the event, said, “The goal of the event was to raise the professional level of our employees. We hope by offering them opportunities to expand their knowledge in the personal and professional arenas, they will benefit, learn, and become healthier, informed, and productive employees.”
Although the day had a serious purpose in raising the productivity of the custodial staff, the team-building activities were clearly the most fun. Organized around the theme of “Custodial Olympics,” teams of custodians from individual schools went head-to head in a series of events that culminated in three trophies being awarded to the top teams.
The events included a Golf Cart Rodeo, Duct Tape Wars, Olympic
Games and building a spaghetti structure. All of the events were designed to strengthen the team’s skills at working together, but they all generated plenty of laughs in the process.
The Golf Cart Rodeo required drivers to navigate a slalom course of tennis balls on stands without knocking them over and to negotiate a series of turns and stops to demonstrate their knowledge of campus safety protocols.
In the Duct Tape Wars, they had to manipulate long duct tape ribbons connected to a magic marker to write the word “teamwork” on a pad. In the spaghetti structure event, they needed to build the tallest structure they could from spaghetti and masking tape that would hold a marshmallow at the top.
The Olympic Games was series of timed events involving bowling with toilet paper rolls, solving a three-dimensional puzzle made of plastic pipe, and balancing a tennis ball on parallel mop handles.
The team from Tuttle Elementary School had the most points at the end of the day and won the gold trophy. The Venice Elementary team won the silver and the Toledo Blade Elementary team won the bronze.
The Sarasota County Schools custodial staff is widely recognized as one of the most efficient in Florida, cleaning 8,820,835 square feet of floor space in 1,213 buildings every day with a staff of 320. The average district custodian cleans more than 27,000 square feet of space a day.
The Florida Department of Education standard is 19,000 square feet per day. Staffing the district at that level would require 144 more custodians.
A study of the district conducted by an independent consultant in 2012 said the staffing level is “a testament to this function’s efficiency and effectiveness.” Nevertheless, the Facilities Department administrators and staff are continuously working to improve their service.
Supervisor Cecil Peel said the Custodial Day is important to the quality of work they perform. “It’s all about building teamwork,” he said. We learn to depend on each other and never to say ‘It’s not my job.’ When we’re part of a team, it’s all our job.”