Minnesota high school students fill in for janitors, clean classrooms

BLAINE, Minn. — Students at a Minnesota high school are doing their part to keep classrooms clean after the dismissal bell rings.

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The state’s largest school district -- the Anoka-Hennepin School District — is 18 custodians short of the 220 it normally employs, which means some buildings are not being cleaned quickly enough, the Star-Tribune of Minneapolis reported.

Tom Karp, the district’s assistant director of buildings and grounds, came up with a plan.

“I said, what if we looked at the untapped potential of high school kids?” Karp told the newspaper.

A student janitor program was rolled out at Blaine High School, where students clean classrooms for two hours each afternoon, the Star-Tribune reported.

Karp approached Blaine High School’s assistant principal, Steve Drewlo, who was enthusiastic about the idea.

“We were immediately on board,” Drewlo told the newspaper. “We were really limited to having zero other alternatives.”

The students are paid $15.30 an hour, which is the same rate a substitute janitor would earn. For transportation home, students can take the school activity bus.

The cleaning is limited to classrooms; the students do not clean locker rooms, bathrooms or kitchens. The students sweep, vacuum, take out trash and straighten desks.

They’ve been “terrific” and “reliable,” said Karp, who called the program “extremely successful.”

Read more about the program here in the Star-Tribune.