Cleaners work behind the scenes to prepare buildings for school year

While students and families enjoyed their summer vacations, more than a dozen Independence Local Schools’ employees prepared Independence primary, middle and high school for the 2023-24 school year.  

Room by room, desk by desk, each building received a deep clean, and building grounds were maintained for curb appeal. 

“Our rock stars have put in a lot of work in such a short amount of time,” said IPS Head Custodian Dave Mantz. “We stripped every classroom to the bare floor and then applied seven coats of wax. The gym floor is an even bigger project. But they are complete and we can’t wait to welcome back our students and staff.” 

Students and teachers will be welcomed with freshly-waxed floors, dust-free surfaces, streak-free windows and spotless walls and light fixtures. Every piece of furniture is moved out of the classrooms and cleaned and all lockers were disinfected. 

The idea of disinfecting is more prevalent now than ever, according to Assistant Superintendent Tom Dreiling. Crews both cleaned and disinfected surfaces and worked ahead of schedule. Many of the cleaners making all this happen have other roles throughout the school year, including classroom aides, cooks, bus drivers and paraprofessionals. Some have worked in the district for more than 40 years as a substitute custodian and cleaner, like Keith Cwiklinski.

Cleaner at the board office, Jennifer Leffel is also a valued member of the district team.

“I couldn’t ask for a better crew,” said Scott Stasek, IMS head custodian.  

“I believe we are on time only for the reason that our summer staff is made up mostly of current and former employees who take pride in the fact that they will see their hard work appreciated every day from the students and staff,” said IHS Head Custodian Chuck Schroeder. “My night custodian Trina Evans is fantastic at keeping on task and scheduling the cleaning areas around the sports practices and summer camp activities.” 

“I appreciate the opportunity to learn new tasks, especially in electricity and plumbing,” said middle school cleaner Elijah Spellman-Sak.

Joshua Stasek, IHS Class of 2018 started working for the district in 2014 and has been on the summer cleaning crew ever since. He enjoys seeing the progress from the last day of school to the first day.   

Middle school cleaners Kaylie Sak and Jane Kane agreed that cleaning in the summer is rewarding because they can see a transformation of the classrooms, halls, bathrooms and entire building much more than during the school year.  

“I enjoy working in this district mainly for the smalltown family feel,” said Schroeder. “Everyone from students and staff to residents have made me feel welcome since I came to the district five years ago.”  

“This has to be the best summer cleaning crew ever,” said Dreiling. “Our crew takes great pride in their work and went over and beyond to make sure our buildings were prepared for students and staff. The team feels well established and I’m impressed by the leadership at each building but also how the team comes together.” ∞