Wake County Schools

Wake parents play 'janitor' as school board works to find funds

Posted August 14, 2012 5:34 p.m. EDT
Updated August 15, 2012 12:10 a.m. EDT

— Many parents are used to cleaning up dirt, dust and sticky spills at home, but dozens of Wake County parents have been pulling double duty at their children’s schools after the school board slashed 70 janitor jobs last year.

To avoid cutting teacher jobs, the school board cut janitor positions and cut back on the number of days each of the 165 schools was cleaned. Last month, after receiving the final state budget, the board was able to allocate an additional $3 million to add back one day of cleaning per week.

The board voted Tuesday night to approve two cleaning contracts worth more than $1 million. More contracts are being negotiated, district leaders said.

Durant Road Middle is one of the affected schools and, now that the school board has approved the money, will be swept and mopped three nights a week instead of two. The school currently has one janitor for about 1,000 students.

“We’re seeing more people doing a little bit more. Everyone pulls their weight in tough times, and I respect that,” said school board member John Tedesco. “I'd rather our teachers spend time on teaching. I'd rather our parents spend time on volunteering and helping their children and not necessarily sweeping."

Parent Patty Shealey is one of those volunteers and recently spent part of her day vacuuming a second-grade classroom.

“I come in and vacuum sometimes for the classrooms where my children are every day and help clean up the classrooms, because they track in so much dirt from outside. It makes it so much nicer when they come in and it’s cleaner,” she said.