Keeping a school clean, safe, and well-maintained is a challenging task at any time for facilities managers, custodians, and janitorial staff. There are a multitude of classrooms and bathrooms to consider, not to mention gymnasiums, computer labs, and libraries.
Further complicating the job, the Covid-19 pandemic has made janitorial work more rigorous and time-consuming over the past two years with the inclusion of additional cleaning and disinfection mandates. As a consequence, the average cost of cleaning service for a school has increased.
Unfortunately, with school budgets typically set years in advance, funding for proper cleaning and sanitization is tighter than ever. This causes leadership to wonder how stricter regulations can be met without dipping into the red. As it turns out, there are a variety of solutions to help school districts balance cleanliness and finances.
In this article, we’ll cover ways to ensure your school district is meeting the requirements of the latest guidelines governing your area. In fact, hiring a professional cleaning service can help.
The Average Cost of Cleaning Service for a School
Keeping school quads and buildings sanitized is a huge job and an expensive endeavor, especially in a populous state like Texas. For example, Houston’s Independent School District is not only the largest in the state, but it is also the seventh-largest in the entire United States.
Janitorial staff and custodians in Houston are responsible for close to 200,000 students across 275-plus campuses. That’s a lot to manage.
Also, there are factors beyond the sheer size that add to the average cost of cleaning service for a school. Covid-19 has put the spotlight on minimum-wage jobs like custodial work, which offers low pay despite high exposure to health threats. Workers want more money as compensation for these dangerous jobs, and these higher costs of labor translate into an increase in the overall cost of cleaning for the school.
Indeed, staffing a sizable, in-house team of full-time employees to adequately handle all duties is expensive. In Houston, the average annual salary of a school cleaner is more than $26,000 per year, with senior custodians and managerial staff likely to ask for twice the amount of an entry-level cleaner.
In addition, the cost of recruitment, including advertising, interviews, background checks, contracts, and training, must be considered. And if your custodial team has a high turnover, you’ll need to go through the hiring process regularly. It all gets costly quickly.
Choosing the best cleaning solution can feel daunting with so many factors in play. The more requirements that need to be followed, the more pressure is put on a school’s custodial team.
Additional Costs of Meeting CDC Guidelines for Cleaning Schools
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have long offered guidance to schools when it comes to slowing the spread of germs. Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, this guidance has been regularly updated to reflect the different waves of the pandemic.
The CDC’s current guidelines covering cleaning and disinfection recommend extra care when considering the following:
- High-traffic areas with large numbers of people
- Poorly ventilated places
- Proper handwashing and hand sanitization
- Increased frequency of cleaning
- Utilization of products suggested by the Environmental Protection Agency
Navigating the constantly changing recommendations is a complexity faced by school administrators everywhere. Principals and school boards need to review and stay current on federal, state, and city rules and regulations to ensure they are complying.
Adding to this challenge is the fact that every time the guidance changes, it can impact the average cost of cleaning service for a school.
Calculating the Cost of Commercial Cleaning Services
For school-cleaning services, district managers typically rely on either in-house janitorial teams or an external, professional cleaning contractor. The cost of in-house services is the combination of salaries, plus equipment and supplies. On the other hand, the cost of a contracted cleaner is determined by taking a few specific factors into account.
Total square footage is a primary factor. The larger the space, the higher the cost. A reputable commercial cleaning company generally performs a walk-around before providing a detailed quote.
Flooring and Furnishings
The types of flooring and furnishings in a building are two additional considerations. For example, tile floors and carpets need to be cleaned using different techniques. Also, some types of flooring require more frequent cleaning than others.
Meanwhile, vacuuming or mopping a large, empty space takes less time than cleaning classrooms full of desks, chairs, and other furniture.
Specialist Cleaning Services
The average cost of cleaning service for a school also depends on specialist cleaning needs. For instance, high-touch areas like bathrooms and cafeterias require special equipment and supplies to properly sanitize and disinfect.
The Houston Independent School District (HISD) recently introduced new guidelines that detail enhanced cleaning procedures to prevent the spread of communicable diseases in schools. The document specifies that high-touch surfaces — including faucets, handrails, and doorknobs — need to be cleaned every hour.
Extra cleaning equals extra cost. So what’s the right answer?
Choosing the Best Cleaning Solution for Your School
With school budgets often unchanged but the average cost for cleaning a school increasing, considering a cleaning service is smart.
Not only do they not demand the additional expense of individual personnel investments (ongoing interviews, background checks, training, etc.), but a reputable cleaning company will be accustomed to cleaning school buildings quickly, efficiently, and according to CDC and HISD guidelines.
That said, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. There is a place for both that can ultimately bring down the average cost of cleaning service for a school while effectively maintaining a clean, safe environment for everyone.
Consider a Hybrid Solution
With few schools having additional funding to expand their teams in the short term, professional school cleaning services are often the answer, with a hybrid approach offering an ideal solution.
This approach combines the in-school custodial team with additional support from a commercial cleaning company when and where it is needed. The combination works well because it allows both teams to play to their strengths.
For example, deploy your school’s team to work during the day, and contract a professional cleaning service to perform certain tasks overnight. In this scenario, the in-house team members, who are the most familiar with their school’s high-traffic areas, can take care of necessary daytime cleaning and disinfecting, such as emergency cleaning after a student has been sick. Then, at night, the professional team can come in to perform a deep clean, which is not possible during the day when the school is busy.
This approach can have the additional benefit of avoiding overtime pay to in-house staff, who have already worked their allotted hours during the regular school day.
A secondary option is to employ your school’s custodial services to perform common tasks like sweeping and mopping, while hiring a professional cleaning contractor for specialist projects that require more time or precision, like cleaning a cafeteria.
In both scenarios, a hybrid approach can help schools ensure the safety of students and faculty effectively and efficiently.
Hire Houston’s Premier Commercial Cleaning Partner
Hiring an experienced, reputable, and reliable commercial cleaning contractor is a simple solution for controlling the average cost of cleaning service for a school. But with so many providers promising expert services, it can be hard to know who to trust.
DTK Facility Services is your answer. For 25 years, our team of experienced professionals has kept the Houston area looking its best. Not only do we understand the specific requirements of cleaning and disinfecting schools, but we are also familiar with the HISD’s specific requirements. When you contract with DTK, we handle every detail with integrity. And we take pride in offering personal service, which is why many of our team members have been with us for years. Get a quote today to see how much money you can save.