Catoosa County Schools (Ringgold, Georgia)


Program Information
Number of students: 10,979
Square footage maintained: 1.25 million
Number of full-time custodians: 75
Annual cleaning budget: $750,000
Green cleaning team members: Damon Raines, Director of Operations; Paul Acuff, Env. Services Mgr.; Teresa Farmer, Gene Lesley, Kelsan Inc., Janitorial Prod. Distributor

Catoosa County Schools decided to go green in 2007 with a goal of protecting the health of students, teachers and custodians. In order to minimize the initial cost, two schools were selected to use as the pilot schools. After the “right mix” of chemicals was determined, the green cleaning products were installed into the remaining schools. Today, all 17 schools within the system use certified green cleaning products for daily cleaning.

Catoosa County Schools began working with its current distributor in 2009 to refine the program that was in place. The objective is to follow the guidelines set by ISSA’s CIMS-GB certification. In addition to green cleaning products, we are using environmentally preferred equipment and have instituted a floorcare program that has eliminated yearly stripping and finishing.

Catoosa County Schools has documented procedures that each custodian has received training on and is required to follow. The documented procedures are placed in a custodial handbook that is located in each custodial closet. The handbook also contains our safety program, training documents and MSDS.

Among our accomplishments, is that 96 percent of the products used daily in our schools are third-party certified. This includes three out of four cleaning chemicals used daily that are concentrated, vacuums and floor scrubbers, paper products, hand soap and hand sanitizer. We have developed a rotating floorcare program that requires stripping and finishing every third year with top scrub and recoat being done between rotations. The savings to our cleaning budget has been significant. We have installed the proper amount of entryway matting in each of our schools to prevent dirt from entering the building. Catoosa County Schools has a recycling program in each school, which includes paper, cardboard, plastic and aluminum cans.

Future goals include the institution of microfiber throughout each of our schools and CIMS-GB certification through ISSA. We sit down at the beginning of each school year to evaluate our program. Targets are set for the next year, and a timeline is established to reach these targets. In addition to this formal meeting, we are constantly evaluating our cleaning program searching for areas for improvement. We are working to improve our recycling program along with our green cleaning program.

In order to standardize not only the cleaning products in each school, Catoosa County Schools has implemented written procedures. This not only puts each custodian on the same page but is a valuable tool for training new employees. Having documented procedures allows the flexibility of moving custodians from one school to another if there is a need.

To protect the health of our students and teachers, major touch points are disinfected daily. These include desk tops, door handles, hand rails and water fountains. Catoosa County Schools also implemented a school bus disinfecting program in at the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year. In addition to protecting the health of the students, a decrease in absenteeism of school bus drivers was realized.

A recycling program was established in 2009 with cardboard and paper, we have since added plastics and aluminum cans.

In an effort to encourage handwashing among the student body, posters are placed throughout the facilities. Our current distributor also assisted with a training that was conducted at one of our elementary schools during lunch. This was a fun and educational day that we hope left our students understanding the importance of proper handwashing. As part of our strategy to become green, we are using Green Seal-certified foam soap and hand sanitizer throughout each school.

Our custodians are required to attend four training seminars yearly with a focus on green cleaning. These trainings are conducted with both hands-on and class room setting formats. Topics include floor care, restroom care, detail cleaning, disinfecting and safety. The purpose of our training program is to ensure that our custodians can effectively and safely perform their job duties. Each custodian is given a certificate for participation and a copy is placed in their employee file.

Innovative ideas are constantly being evaluated within our cleaning program. Our three-year rotating floorcare program has not only saved money but reduced the amount of harsh chemicals being used. We are using special floor pads and square scrub machines to strip floors, thus reducing the amount of stripper being used. Our restrooms are cleaned daily toensure that each restroom is thoroughly sanitized and saved the time allotted to clean. We are also in the process of having our schools workloaded. This process gives us the cost to clean each school, the time to conduct the tasks and how many custodians are needed to clean the building.

An audit is conducted at each school using an inspection form based on the APPA 5 levels of cleanliness. Our goal is to achieve a score of 2 at each school. The results are reviewed with both the head custodian and principal by Paul Acuff, the environmental services manager.