School kids can be a messy lot, leaving a trail of scuff marks, paper, milk cartons and other debris across classrooms, bathrooms and playgrounds. That is why a group of parents and supporters of Elysian Heights Elementary have voiced concern about a school district wide program they fear will lead to a dirty and unsafe campus. On Thursday afternoon, Elysian Heights and Echo Park parents were collecting signatures on a petition against an L.A. Unified program called Team Cleaning, which is shifting some daytime custodial and maintenance staff into a roving band of cleaners that will work after the school day is over. The idea is to increase efficiency in the wake of budget cuts that has left the district with fewer cleaning crews at the same time it has added more than 10 million square feet of new schools. But some parents and school staff worry that Team Cleaning will do little to improve efficiency and only lead to delays in making repairs, cleaning up spills and dealing with “protein events,” which, according to one Elysian Heights parent, is L.A. Unified speak for a kid throwing up.
Elysian Heights parents say the Team Cleaning concept at their school will mean the replacement of the campus’ full time plant manager with a two-hour a day restroom attendant. A letter distributed by resident Shirley Moyers on behalf of the Friends of Elysian Heights Elementary and Parent Center Volunteers said:
“If implemented, “team cleaning” would have a serious, negative effect on our campus. Our Plant Manager is responsible for the cleanliness of our school, keeping our green spaces healthy, opening and closing the school, setting up for all of the school programs and festivals, communicating with the district to get things fixed when they are broken – water fountains, air conditioning, bungalow removal to name a few over the past months. As you might imagine it takes repeated calling and persistence to make sure repairs and updates are performed by the district in a safe and timely manner.”
The Eastsider contacted the office of Dale Vigil, Superintendent of L.A. Unified Local District 4, which included Elysian Heights, for comment.