School Extra by Bob Zimmerman

“As busy as things get, we always have time to unlock a door for a student that forgot their homework, help open a locker, and find that missing cell phone. In the end, it’s all about providing a clean and safe environment for the kids to learn in.” Maple Lake Schools Head Custodian, Brad Neutz, and the other five custodians are definitely busy people but his comment shows exactly where the team’s priorities are. He also explained the responsibilities that keep them busy.

Nearly 900 students, staff members and visitors rely on the men to keep the school clean, heated, cooled, safe and maintained throughout the year. The school has 246,865 square feet of space and an average house has 1,500. I did the math and found that the building size equals 164 homes. Mr. Neutz and Mr. Steve Fritz work days and the 3 to 11 shift is covered by Mr. Dave Michalski, Mr. Dale Plaggerman, Mr. Joe Ruh and Mr. Joe Brown. On a daily basis they sweep, vacuum and auto-scrub the floors. They clean and stock the restrooms, take out garbage and set up and clean the cafeterias. They also repair everything from pencil sharpeners to dishwashers and only call in outside help for repairs on the biggest problems. Adding to their workload is the setup and takedown needed for sporting events, concerts, awards programs, prom, graduation and other events.

The custodians responsibilities extend outside the building as well. Snow removal for the parking lots is contracted out, but the in-house crew clears all of the sidewalks, doorways and emergency exits. Groundskeeping for the entire campus requires a lot of time. Mowing and trimming are just part of the needed work. Keeping the sports fields and playground ready for use has to be done in a timely manner. Mr. Steve Fritz gets well-deserved credit for doing most of the outside work. The custodians also oversee the building’s roofs and according to Mr. Neutz “We try to keep most of the rain out.”

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