Grand Award K-12/School Districts: Newport News Public Schools, Newport News, Virginia 

Program Information

Total number of students: 28,569

Total square footage maintained: 4.4 million

Total number of custodians: 246

Total annual cleaning budget: $6,024,473 (including payroll)

Green cleaning team members: Keith Webb, Exec. Dir., Plant Services; Marcella Bullock, Cust. Supervisor II; Riverside, Rutherford, Janitorial Prod. Distributors

The program began in 2007 when the district reviewed staffing, using the savings to update and upgrade the equipment in its 44 schools. The equipment replacement started in the summer of 2008. At a cost of $441,000, the district replaced all major equipment with the most efficient and advanced equipment available at that time.

In October 2008, a trainer was hired to provide effective, efficient and consistent training to the custodial staff. The trainer came from a hospital organization, so cleanliness was paramount, and she infused the green mentality into daily operations.

Administrators created a “Sustainable Cleaning” handbook, and also became certified CMI (Cleaning Management Institute) trainers and began to systematically train custodians. The new trainer was certified in 2010, and they are consistently moving forward with training of custodians (all building lead custodians are certified in Basic and Advanced Levels). Three area supervisors and the trainer are certified through CMI in its Custodial Maintenance Supervision course.  In an effort to promote professionalism within the front line managers, they enrolled all building lead custodians, as well as departmental office staff in DDI Management Training, provided by the Human Resources Department, to give this group the basics of what it means and how to be a manager.

They investigated and made gradual replacement of chemicals to green products. In 2010, they worked to delete many chemicals from the inventory. They also purchased speed scrubbers, which enables them to scrub or strip floors with electrically converted water (no chemicals). They also replaced various paper products with high recycled-content products. Color-coded microfiber cloths were purchased for various cleaning situations, as well as microfiber dust mops and microfiber dusters. They also purchased a washer and dryer to clean microfiber products in-house. For the conventional chemicals still in use, they use measured dosage dispensing equipment.

They have added extra pickups to recycling dumpsters and reduced pickups for regular waste dumpsters. They participate in a regional green organization comprised of other governmental agencies sponsored by the recycling contractor. With the changes made just in recycling, they save about $120,000 a year in refuse removal costs since the start of the program.

They have embraced IPM. Since 2005, they have mandated IPM practices by the pest control company. In the fall of 2010, they hosted a regional IPM training conference, with training provided by Virginia Tech in conjunction with the EPA and sponsorship of the Virginia School Plant Managers Association.

They are members of ISSA, and belong to the Virginia School Plant Management Association, participating in their monthly regional meetings as well as their statewide meeting. They also are members of APPA.

As part of the overall strategy, they have embraced the APPA levels of cleanliness concept. Based on self-evaluations in 2008, they deemed a benchmark at Level 3. It became the goal to reach 100 percent of facilities being at Level 2. At this point in time, they have 100 percent of facilities at Level 2. Every school in the division is inspected monthly by area custodial supervisors with quarterly inspections by the custodial supervisor. The custodial trainer inspects schools as well, using it as a guide for training at the school inspected. He then does group or one-on-one lessons as appropriate.

They created a “Sustainable Cleaning” handbook, as well as a “Standard Operating Procedures” book. Every facility has a copy of these books for the staff to use as learning tools and reference guides. In June 2012, they introduced the “Safety Coach” program, which became an added section of the “Standard Operating Procedures” book.

They periodically place articles in the school division newsletter and on the division website.  Posters and recycling containers are placed within each school, as well as dumpsters, with a goal to recycle up to 80 percent of the waste stream.  The posters displayed around the schools have been created by students. For the 2012-2013 school year, a districtwide (all grades) “Go Green” recycling contest was held to create new posters for the recycling program. Contest winners received gift certificates, and the winner’s entry is being made into a poster and a bumper sticker. For the past five years, they have had a Clean School contest that has its culmination at an awards ceremony just before school starts in September, where the superintendent of schools provides bonuses to each member of the custodial staff at each winning school. At this ceremony, she also hands out the Certificates of Achievement for all who have completed their CMI training, which also comes with a bonus payment.

In 2010 and 2011, they won the Silver Certified Green School Division award from the Virginia School Board Association for their VSBA Green Schools Challenge.

For the future, it is the district’s mission to maintain all facilities at a 100 percent Level 2 cleanliness. They also are adopting the Disney Philosophy of doing business to create a safer and more pleasant work environment for employees while keeping the learning environment clean and safe for both students and staff.