Budget Considerations Compromise Maintenance

Eric Bourse and Agnes Constante, El Vaquero Staff Writers

Ongoing state budget cuts have continually hit California’s public higher education system, and the effects have taken a toll on Glendale’s ability to maintain a campus as clean as it used to be.

“Classrooms are cleaned less often than they used to be, at least it certainly appears that way. The floors are waxed less often than they used to be,” said math professor Steve Marsden. “When there are budget cuts, one thing that gets cut is the support staff that would take care of that.”

Glendale has about 30 custodians that maintain both the main and Garfield campuses. Twenty-seven are assigned to the main campus, and four are at Garfield. In the past eight years the college has lost six custodians due to retirement.

These positions have not been filled. Instead, 10 general workers have been hired to take the place of these vacancies.

General workers are paid by the hour and do not receive benefits. Unlike custodians, they are not assigned to clean any specific building, and complete tasks as needed.

Hoover Zariani, president of GCC’s California School Employees Association, the state’s largest classified school employees union in the nation, said having hourly workers affects the quality of cleanliness on campus.

“Having a person assigned to a building just makes it so they take pride in keeping their building clean. Hourly people might just come here, do their work and leave with no spirit of GCC because they don’t have that connection, which is something full time custodians have,” Zariani said.

In addition to maintaining outside grounds, custodians are also responsible for the upkeep of 964,000 square-feet of building space.

This school year, the student government gave the facilities department $30,000 to assist with campus maintenance. Most of the funds were spent repairing vandalism in bathrooms.

Damages in bathrooms have mainly been graffiti on mirrors and scratching in drywalls. Dan Padilla, manager of operations and maintenance, said facilities used funding from the student government on replacing mirrors for $9,000 and on covering up drywalls, $20,000.

Bathrooms on the first, second and third floors of the San Gabriel building have been tiled.

Suzie Kebachyan, 18, nursing, said she noticed that bathrooms don’t seem well maintained.

“Sometimes when you go into the bathroom and it looks like it hasn’t been cleaned all day,” she said. “There’s paper on the floor and it’s not a surprise when the paper towel dispenser is empty.”

Padilla said bathrooms are cleaned two to three times each day, and that a thorough cleaning is done once a day.

Another area of concern is cleanliness of the cafeteria and other eating areas.
“It’s not a restaurant service here and it would be nice if students and faculty would make sure they pick up after themselves,” Padilla said.

As the campus continues expanding, Padilla said the school is also responsible for the keeping those areas clean.

“That’s where it starts becoming difficult because we have more square footage now and less custodians than we did just a few years ago,” Padilla said.

While the budget has impacted cleanliness on Glendale’s campus, one custodian, who requested to remain anonymous, said the problem isn’t necessarily the budget, but the way in which workers are managed. The custodian has witnessed other workers who take breaks longer than they are supposed to, and who don’t clean up as well as they should.

Zariani has been at GCC for more than 20 years, and though there were more custodial staff earlier in his tenure, he said still thinks the campus is beautiful given the number of people working to keep it clean.

“I just think all of the custodial staff is really overworked. It’s hard work, cleaning a whole building. So they are doing a phenomenal job, but we really need to get them help.”

With the current budget, Padilla said there is a strong possibility that custodians will be laid off in the future.

“We’re trying our best just to hang on to doing what we can do, but it is starting to get away from us,” he said. “We’re bracing for the worst.”