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Chapter 5

This chapter examines Laredo Independent School District's (LISD's) facilities use and management in four divisions.

A. Facilities Planning, Design and Construction Management
B. Maintenance and Operations
C. Custodial Services
D. Energy Management


Responsibilities for custodial services are shared among district and school personnel. The LISD administrative assistant for Custodians and Textbooks is responsible for safety and some technical training, assisting facility administrators in job performance expectations, handling all records and reports and maintaining custodial supplies and materials. Individual school principals, assistant principals and facility administrators, in conjunction with lead custodians, manage work schedules, safety and supplies on a daily basis. Custodial staffs maintain all schools and grounds.

LISD has a total of 219 custodial employees, most of whom are supervised by local school or facility administrators. Schedules, custodial tasks and cleaning methods vary from school to school. In most elementary schools, custodians also serve as crossing-guards in addition to handling general cleaning and minor maintenance duties, whereas security officers work as crossing guards in middle and high schools.


Although the administrative assistant for Custodians and Textbooks has the title and much of the responsibility for custodial services, the custodial operation is not centralized to the degree that this person has control over the custodial staff, services, purchasing or supplies. Such decentralization across 59 facilities implies that there are 59 individual school/facility custodial departments throughout the district. Local administrators determine work schedules, workloads, types of tasks and even the procedures custodians use on a daily basis.

Generally, at each school, the lead custodian establishes routine cleaning and maintenance procedures, sets schedules and focuses on safety and cleanliness. The lead custodian also does the following:

  • Directs and monitors the work of custodians;
  • Helps screen, select and train custodians;
  • Directs and assists in setting up facilities for special events;
  • Maintains an inventory of cleaning supplies and equipment and orders additional supplies as needed;
  • Regulates heat, ventilation and air conditioning systems to provide appropriate temperatures and ensures economical usage of fuel, water and electricity;
  • Assumes responsibility for opening and closing buildings each school day;
  • Oversees procedures for locking, checking and safeguarding facilities;
  • Ensures that all exit doors and panic hardware are working properly;
  • Inspects machines and equipment for safety and efficiency;
  • Operates tools and equipment in accordance with the established safety procedures;
  • Follows established safety procedures and techniques to perform job duties; and
  • Corrects and reports unsafe conditions in work areas.

Typical general custodial duties include:

  • Cleaning floors, chalkboards, windows, furniture, equipment and restrooms;
  • Emptying wastebaskets, disposing of and storing trash;
  • Keeping school buildings clean and maintaining school grounds, including sidewalks, driveways, parking lots and play areas;
  • Assisting with lunchroom set up, including arranging tables, chairs;
  • Making minor building repairs as needed and reporting major repair needs to the principal or facility administrator;
  • Moving furniture and equipment within buildings as directed by the facility administrator;
  • Maintaining outdoor grounds, including mowing grass, pruning shrubs, setting sprinklers and cleaning parking lots and sidewalks.

Since each school custodial department operates independently, central control is diminished. Decentralization of this type can result in non-equitable working conditions, services, purchases, supplies and a district without a clear definition of custodial and non-custodial tasks. A recent cleanliness assessment audit of two schools conducted by the administrative assistant for Custodians and Textbooks revealed that custodians were overseeing detention programs, setting up and taking down metal detectors and searching backpacks, none of which are custodial responsibilities. In addition, custodians have performed maintenance work, such as major painting, under the authority of an individual school or facility administrator. Furthermore, it is unclear which schools and facilities conduct performance evaluations, but there is no comprehensive, ongoing performance evaluation that is monitored on a regular basis.

In addition, the district will incur unnecessary costs and experience equipment repair delays if communication among decision-makers for the purchase of custodial equipment is not increased. Purchasing decisions for custodial equipment, including equipment such as vacuums and floor buffers, were decentralized from the Maintenance and Operations Department to campus principals beginning with the 2001-02 school year. Having a single decision-maker enables the district to purchase selected equipment brands, makes and models throughout the district and to maintain a parts inventory that minimizes the time required to repair equipment. The administrative assistant for Custodians and Textbooks has recommended that campus principals make standardized equipment purchases, but there is no central point or mechanism to implement the recommendation for non-bid items. Campus principals refer to a list of approved vendors for bid items, but are responsible for recommending vendors for purchasing non-bid items themselves. Within the current structure, each campus principal may request a number of similar non-bid items of different brands, makes and models, and only when the Purchasing Department identifies that similar requests have been made would the item be placed on bid.

The inability to standardize equipment purchases affects the Purchasing Department, Maintenance and Operations Department, the Textbook and Custodial Services Department and the campuses. The current process does not enable the Purchasing Department to adequately plan for purchases of similar custodial equipment items and may result in delays for receiving needed custodial equipment while competitive solicitation activities are performed. Purchasing custodial equipment of different brands may result in paying a higher price than if the same brands and models were purchased from a single vendor. Additionally, since repair needs cannot be anticipated, purchasing numerous brands, makes and models may result in increased turnaround time for equipment repairs, because it is not cost effective for the Maintenance and Operations Department, which repairs the district's equipment, to keep spare parts on hand for numerous types of similar equipment. The Maintenance and Operations Department would have to order each repair item separately when the need for it arises, and it is not equipped to loan out in the interim while repairs are made.

Recommendation 54:

Centralize custodial operations, including staff, under the administrative assistant for Custodians and Textbooks.

Centralizing custodial operations under the direction of the administrative assistant for Custodians and Textbooks will enhance accountability, standardize operations hiring procedures and work assignments and provide more uniformity in training and safety procedures.

1. The administrative assistant for Custodians and Textbooksdevelops a plan for centralizing custodial services and presents it to the board. May 2002
2. The administrative assistant for Custodians and Textbooksevaluates existing custodial conditions at each school and/or facility. June - July 2002
3. The administrative assistant for Custodians and Textbooksevaluates findings and makes equitable adjustments to staff, services and supplies. August 2002
4. The administrative assistant for Custodians and Textbooksdevelops and monitors performance evaluations for custodial staff. August 2002


This recommendation can be implemented with existing resources.


The amount of space that district custodial staff clean and maintain is below both the district allocation formula and the Texas industry standard. LISD's allocation formula provides for 13,000 square feet per custodian, and the Association for School Business Officials recommends 20,000 square feet per custodian. LISD'S actual average is 10,457 square feet per custodian.

The district developed its allocation formula based on the age of the facilities, their open design and the assignment of non-custodial tasks. Each custodian is expected to clean an 800-900 square-foot area or the average size of classroom, in 20 minutes, which equates to three classrooms per hour. Thus, in a five-hour period, a custodian should be able to clean 15 classrooms or approximately 13,000 square feet. This leaves three hours per day for the custodian to perform school-specific, non-custodial tasks, as directed by the school or facility administrator. Exhibit 5-19 presents LISD custodial staffing levels compared to the district standard of 13,000 square feet.

Exhibit 5-19
LISD Custodial Staffing Levels Compared to District Standard
School Total Gross
Square Feet (GSF)
Current Number
Of Staff
Number of GSF
per Custodian
Staff Needed for
District Standard
of 13,000 GSF
per Custodian
Number of
Staff Over
or Under
Bruni 28,676 3 10,000 2 +1
Buenos Aires 31,847 4 8,000 2 +2
Daiches 35,156 4 9,000 3 +1
Dovalina 31,496 3 10,000 2 +1
Farias 78,594 8 10,000 6 +2
Hachar 28,700 3 10,000 2 +1
Heights 24,703 3 8,000 2 +1
Kawas 43,894 4 11,000 3 +1
Leyendecker 45,665 5 9,000 4 +1
Ligarde 40,892 4 10,000 3 +1
Macdonell 30,144 3 10,000 2 +1
J.C. Martin 69,666 7 10,000 5 +2
Milton 49,093 6 8,000 4 +2
Ochoa 30,656 4 8,000 2 +2
A. Pierce 62,413 6 10,000 5 +1
Ryan 49,974 6 8,000 4 +2
T. Sanchez 45,492 6 8,000 4 +2
Santa Maria 19,068 2 9,534 2 0
Santo Nino 59,725 6 10,000 5 +1
K. Tarver 47,524 5 10,000 4 +1
Zachry 54,576 5 11,000 4 +1
Total Elementary Schools 907,954 97 9,000 70 +27
Christen 151,182 13 12,000 12 +1
Cigarroa 103,802 9 12,000 8 +1
Lamar 126,824 13 10,000 10 +3
Memorial 69,521 6 12,000 5 +1
Total Middle Schools 451,329 41 11,000 35 +6
Cigarroa 179,571 16 11,000 14 +2
Martin 216,008 20 11,000 17 +3
Nixon 289,844 24 12,000 22 +2
VMT Comm & Fine Arts 89,147 7 13,000 7 0
Total High Schools 774,570 67 12,000 60 +7
F.S. Lara 35,504 4 9,000 3 +1
LAP 5,960 1 6,000 1 0
Admin. Offices 61,829 5 12,000 5 0
Div. Of Operations 43,915 3 15,000 3 0
Transportation 8,915 1 9,000 1 0
Total Other Sites 156,123 14 11,000 12 +2
Grand Total 2,289,976 219 10,457 178 +41
Source: LISD Textbook and Custodial Services Department, November 2001.

LISD also has significantly lower area coverage in square feet (SF) per custodian than its peer districts, as illustrated in Exhibit 5-20.

Exhibit 5-20
LISD Custodial Allocation Compared with Peer Districts
District Estimated Area
in Square Feet (SF)
Square Feet (SF)
per Custodian
compared to ASBO
standard (20,000 SF)
Eagle Pass 1,394,958 92 15,163 22
Harlandale 2,415,553 159 15,192 38
Laredo 2,289,976 219 10,457 105
United 3,677,098 220 16,714 36
Source: TSPR Peer School District Survey and LISD, November - December 2001. Data not available for Edgewood and Edinburg ISDs.

In the performance and management review report conducted for the district in 1997 by Empirical Management Services (EMS), EMS recommended that the district establish a minimum cleaning standard of 14,000 square feet per custodian. EMS also recommended that the district reduce the number of custodial positions to increase the efficiency of its custodial services. The district had a total of 306 custodial positions in 1997-98, and that number has been reduced to 219 by the 2001-02 school year.

LISD is over staffed by 41 positions, by its own standards, and by 105 positions according to the industry standard of 20,000 square feet per custodian.

Recommendation 55:

Apply district staffing formulas for custodial positions.

Applying district staffing formulas should reduce the number of custodial positions by 41 positions from 219 to 178. The district should evaluate custodial work schedules, practices and tasks to develop a plan that converts custodial services into purely custodial duties.

To maximize custodial services, a team-cleaning approach should be applied where possible. Essentially, the team-cleaning concept requires that a primary technician straighten classroom furniture and empty wastebaskets; a floor technician vacuums floors; and a sanitation technician cleans desktops, door handles and various other items in the classroom. Once all classrooms and restrooms are cleaned, technicians take on a multipurpose role and handle a variety of additional cleaning tasks. Scheduling day and night shifts is critical since cleaning duties are more efficiently and effectively handled when children are not in classrooms.

1. The administrative assistant for Custodians and Textbooksevaluates current custodial procedures, work schedules and performance. May-June 2002
2. The administrative assistant for Custodians and Textbooksmakes appropriate adjustments to define equitable workloads among custodians. June 2002
3. The administrative assistant for Custodians and Textbooksdevelops a plan for reducing the number of custodial positions. July 2002
4. The administrative assistant for Custodians and Textbookspresents the plan to the superintendent and board for approval. August 2002
5. The administrative assistant for Custodians and Textbooksimplements the plan to reduce the number of custodial positions. September 2002
6. The administrative assistant for Custodians and Textbookscontinually monitors, evaluates and adjusts custodial work schedules, procedures and performance expectations for improvement purposes. Ongoing


The annual salary at the minimum level for custodians at Pay Grade I for 240 duty days is $11,628. Health insurance for para-professionals is $2,280 per year and other benefits are 13.6422 percent of gross salary. Eliminating one custodian position will save the district $11,628 in salary and benefits of $3,866 ($11,628 x .136422=$1,586 plus $2,280) for a total of $15,494. Eliminating 41 custodial positions will save the district $635,254 annually.

The fiscal impact assumes that custodial staff reductions will be distributed across all elementary, middle and high schools and 21 of the staff reductions can be achieved in 2002-03, but the remaining 20 reductions will not occur until 2003-04.

Recommendation 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07
Apply district staffing formulas for custodial positions. $325,374 $635,254 $635,254 $635,254 $635,254