Silver Award K-12/School Districts: Rolla Public Schools, Rolla, Missouri

Program Information

Total number of students: 4,000

Total square footage maintained: 700,237

Total number of custodians: 34 

Total annual cleaning budget: $165,800

Green cleaning team members: Aaron Zalis, Superintendent; Ginger King, Dir. of Tech Services; Larry Moerland, Dir. of Maintenance; Rolla P.S. Cust. Staff; Dave Thompson, Pres., Chris Headrick, Green Exec., GCI, Janitorial Prod. Dist.; John Quistell, New Systems Janitorial Supply; Rolla P.S. Board of Ed.; Sandy Van Aken, RN, Dist. Dir.; City of Rolla Sanitation and Recycling; Eco Club; students and teachers

The district’s Cleaning for Health program started in 1997, when the green movement was in its infancy. They started first by eliminating products with high VOCs; it was very big concern to staff and a constant complaint. They then upgraded equipment and matting to improve indoor air quality. It was a slow process, as they were evolving with the industry and its offerings at the time. The school board then adopted a statement policy, and started to develop a training video and custodial handbook to put procedures in place for safety that all had access to for training future staff. At this time, there was nothing available, so they teamed up with a company to produce their own materials. They started specialist cleaning buildings in place of zone cleaning for procedure cost and material effectiveness.

This process has been a long one and involves many years of school boards and administrators that kept the process moving in their own ways. Dr. Zalis, the current superintendent was a vice principal at one of the middle schools when the program was in its infancy, and he has always encouraged its success for our future students and staff.

They soon started to change the bid process to recognize that they had a responsibility to buy from companies that were reputable and responsible in similar ways.

A few presentations were made to the board so they would be informed and enlightened as to the importance of the program. These meetings also were broadcast to the community by the local TV station. The district also included procedures and other important information on their website for the community.

They then included Sandy Van Aken, RN, director of nurses, to work on strengthening handwashing procedures and improving MSDS books for the district; they meet with administrators once a year to discuss these and other topics such as  illness and ATP metering to IAQ. Microfiber was implemented across the board, and backpack vacuums replaced brooms. They changed to fragrance-free restroom deodorizers, and removed urinal deodorizing blocks. They started implementing water-saving devices, such as hands-free flushers and faucets.

The school district implemented a written pest-control management program in accordance with state mandates.

They have done several presentations to the science department at the high school about healthful cleaning and environmentally safe products and procedures. They also had an article printed in the school newspaper on the department’s efforts.

The biggest strategies have been the promotion of hand washing, which has been a coordinated effort among the custodial staff, director of nurses and the Design Academy of Rolla Technical Institute to create custom hand-washing signs. They also had students go to different schools in the district during lunch to promote hand washing. They also adopted a sanitizer policy that placed sanitizer stations in facilities (computer labs) and concession areas where hand washing is not available.

Communication is another big strategy. They have started a page on My Big Campus, a mass communication device like Facebook but for schools, for all principals and staff. This communicates information about procedures, safety, updates to MSDS, websites and training.

They recycle many items districtwide. The Eco Club recycles cardboard, paper, aluminum and plastic bottles. This also includes athletic venues. The tech department recycles all of the electronic components from computers to TVs and VCRs. The student clubs also have done recycled battery and toner cartridge drives, as well as community florescent bulbs collections. They use mulch from the city to put around trees and flower beds.

In 2010, they teamed up with the Green Clean Institute for third-party training and certifications to help the team structure with continued education. Chris Headrick, a green executive, was GCI Tech 1&2 Certified and Manager Certified in 2010, and Executive certified in 2011 and 2012. These certifications required him to digest a large amount of information and pass six 30-question tests with 70 percent to pass. He has been working in the school district as a custodian since 1990 and is the custodial supervisor at Rolla High School. The entire custodial staff was tech-certified in 2011.

They now are on the back side of our educational stage. Recertifying staff with CEUs (Continued education units) each custodial staff member is required to take two certification and training units every year. All newly hired custodians are required to be Tech 1&2 certified before they start working in a facility.

The Green Guidelines for Cleaning in Schools were passed in Missouri in January 2009, so this gave them a much clearer picture of where they needed to go. They then started to use a 180 best-practices sheet. This organizes and verifies the program and gives them more focus on next steps.

The district implements a set of goals to meet that is updated with three-year increments of where they want to be in the future with facilities. They also have a school statement on the website. One of the goals is to meet 95 percent attendance for the year. The district also realizes that how they clean has an impact on those numbers, not only for students but also for staff. In 25 years, they have never closed the doors because of an epidemic outbreak.

Cleaning for health is a path that never ends, and they are always looking for new innovations to improve the program. Currently on the horizon is Blue Green cleaning. They are looking into ion cleaning products for a more sustainable and cost-effective cleaner for the district. They have just finished implementing a no-chemical floor-maintenance program. They also are in the process of metered floor-finish application and nano technology. Ergonomics is something they are always looking for in equipment to help staff stay healthy.

They also continue to work with Eco Club to improve the recycling program and help guide young leaders in that program with new ideas. They hosted two Earth Day sustainability conferences with MS&T University at the high school gymnasium for the community and students where the latest technology and practices were showcased in solar, household, automotive and business.

For several years, they hosted two workshops a year on cleaning for health and invited all administrators and surrounding school districts. This also included some tech certification training with GCIC. Some of the schools that attended over the years were Dixon, Belle, Salem, St. James, Bourbon, Jefferson City and the Columbia (Mo.) school district. The district also was represented at the MARE conference in Lake Ozark in 2004, where they spoke about cleaning for health in the school district to many school administrators and head nurses across the state.

The long-term goal since 1997 has been education. It is by far the biggest challenge to give accurate information and gain support. The district was notified by GCIC that it scored a 625 on the EHS gold program, and they are expecting an award from that program at a later date.