At 2 p.m. when the day is winding down at Cypress Elementary School, Gloria Romano’s day is just beginning. She clocks in, prepares her supplies, and departs her office for her first task of the day – cleaning the restrooms.
When the bell rings and the students depart the school, she cleans every classroom, every office and every hallway. At 10:30 p.m., she leaves the school, confident that her work has ensured another day of a safe, healthy environment for student learning.
Romano says Cypress ES feels like her second home. She has been working as a custodian in Leander ISD for 17 years, 14 of which she has spent at Cypress. In the beginning, the opportunity to work as a custodian in LISD was one of convenience. Her daughters attended school in the district, and the work was close to home.
“It’s a relaxed environment to do the work I need to do,” Romano said through a translator, “and the teachers appreciate the work that we do.”
The most challenging part of her job, Romano said, is the massive deep clean the custodial staff undertakes throughout the summer to prepare for a new school year. From the first day of summer until the day of Open House, the three-person custodial staff cleans the school from top to bottom. They clean the white boards, wipe down every single wall, clean the carpet and the bathrooms, wax the tiles, and dust from ceiling to floor.
“She is proud of what she does,” Federico Collazo, LISD director of custodial services, said. “The custodians are always present, they’re always available and flexible. They know about team work.”
Most importantly, Federico said, these custodians are parents, uncles and grandparents of LISD students, who are very knowledgeable about their work and make sacrifices to work at odd hours.
When asked what she would want the community to know about her role, Romano said, “I would want everyone to know all the work that goes behind the scenes to make this happen. A person or staff or parent who comes in to see the school clean should know it takes teachers and students and the principal and the office staff to move the school, but also the custodians to keep it clean.”
LISD custodians clean more than 6 million feet of space every day, including all 25 elementary schools, eight middle schools, and six high schools, in addition to the administration, annex, technology, transportation and support services buildings. While the custodians at the elementary schools work until 10:30 p.m., shifts for middle school custodians end at 11:30 p.m., and high school custodians stay until midnight. On average, 195 – 200 custodians work for the district.