Custodian shortage leads to poor conditions

Leighton Johnson, Staff writer

Scattered plastic bags, leftover bottles and half-eaten food. These are common objects found within a messy environment and the same could be said about the campus. Students have failed to throw away food waste after lunch and continue to leave trash around campus on a daily basis. Although there are multiple custodians that work throughout the day, the school has been short one  custodian for about a year, affecting the others’ shifts.

“We had a custodian that was working an eight hour position and she wanted to work day shifts so she went to another school,” assistant principal Catherine Halbuer said. “That meant one of our five and a half hour custodians had to take her position. We’ve been struggling to find somebody for the five and a half hour position.”

Halbuer said the situation affects the school because of the shift times.

“It impacts the cleaning up of school,” she said. “We mostly need [the custodians] at night. We do have some other custodians like Coach Derrick [Hamilton] that coaches basketball so he can’t always be here at night and we work with our other custodian as well due to child care issues so he has a split shift. Primarily, we need the custodians in the evening more so than during the day.”

Around 950 students attend West Shore and spend around 175 to 180 days on campus. With that number of students on campus, the amount of trash produced is quite large as students transition from one class to another.

“Since I move around from Building 2 to Building 16 every day I’ve been in a lot of classrooms and usually after third period is when I start seeing a bunch of wrappers and crumpled up papers,” junior Mahmood Syed said. “These are simple inconveniences that could easily be taken care of with a little effort towards keeping classes clean.”

The “Brevard Times” recently reported several schools in the county having received an unsatisfactory rating during inspection conducted by the Florida Department of Health. The health inspector goes as far as to say “They’re all garbage.” Facilities mentioned included Cocoa, Heritage, Melbourne and Palm Bay high schools. Similar stories revealed that a number of schools within Florida had failed to meet standards for school cafeterias, with some containing live rats and roaches. The reason for attracting such creatures are due to a combination of foods that have been left out in the open and cluttered environments. Similar conditions could be viewed around the West Shore campus, especially immediately after Power Hour. The administration has begun to take notice and plans to address the problem soon.

Principal Rick Fleming said students need to be more aware of their surroundings.

“Part of the problem does come from me as an adult. I should put more effort into communicating with the student body but also make public-service announcements notifying students about these problems,” Fleming said. “Still, students should be aware and conscientious about cleaning up the campus.”

School janitor Anthony Gonzalez said students just need to pick up after themselves.

“The worst messes are usually in the cafeteria where I’ll find different types of foods stomped, melted or mixed together which makes cleaning an extra hassle,” he said. “My biggest concern is how students continue to leave trash on campus mostly the cafeteria. Then, when the winds blows, the trash and it just becomes a bigger mess”

Junior Ben Aronson said he has seen the situation worsen during his time on campus.

“After attending this school for over five years I’ve noticed the condition [of our school] has continually gotten worse,” he said.

Freshman Samuel Eisert said the mess isn’t limited to the area in and around the cafeteria.

“I’m sure this issue has been brought up before during announcements, yet nothing has been done, especially after lunch,” he said. “When I walk into rest rooms, I tend to see toilet paper thrown everywhere. Sometimes the urinals will magically overflow even though they were working a few minutes ago. These situations are making it hard to step into a restroom.”