Columbia Public Schools District Engages Community in Award-Winning Green Cleaning Program
March 23, 2011 | Written By: Healthy Schools Campaign
by Alex Schaible, HSC Writer and Policy Analyst
We recently had the opportunity to speak with Mike Jones, who won the award for Best New K-12 Program in the annual Green Cleaning Awards for the cleaning program he manages at the Columbia Public Schools District in Columbia, Missouri.
Jones, the Assistant Director of Custodial Services, shared his efforts to build support for green cleaning among all members of the school community. Jones started his program in 2009 and has worked with his custodial staff, the school board, school staff and students to make sure everyone is on board with the green cleaning program.
Jones has identified key stakeholders to engage in a green cleaning program and discussed the steps he has taken to include each group in the district wide green cleaning program.
Engaging your custodial staff
“Custodians are the ultimate users of the products and it is critical to get their support before you move forward with your program,” said Jones.
Currently, Jones estimates that over 85 percent of his janitorial staff is on board with green cleaning and he hopes to continue to increase this number. In order to involve custodians in the green cleaning program at Columbia Public School District, Jones has included them in the process of testing new products and values the feedback they provide about what products will and will not work in the buildings they work in.
Jones regularly seeks out their input and provides regular training to building staff. Since the green cleaning program began, custodial staff at Columbia Public School District have reported that they feel cleaning has been simplified and that they’ve noticed improvement in their own health.
Getting support from your school board
Six months after starting the green cleaning program in Columbia, Jones was invited to present in front of the district’s school board. Sharing efforts to promote the health of students and staff is an excellent way of building support for green cleaning at the district level. Since starting the green cleaning program, the district has the lowest rate of student absenteeism in three years and Jones believes the green cleaning program is largely responsible for this.
In addition to sharing the health benefits, Jones was able to share with the board his documentation that green cleaning was saving the district money. The school board applauded Jones and his team for their efforts and is highly supportive of the work he is doing to build the existing green cleaning program.
Involving students and staff
After starting the green cleaning program, Jones met with the district’s teachers to explain new products and the overall goals of a green cleaning program. During these meetings, emphasis was placed on the importance of hand washing:
“With the installation of new green paper towels, tissue and soap, I met with teaching staff to explain our new products and stressed the importance of proper hand washing techniques. We also spoke with teachers about sharing this information with students and discussing with students the importance of being environmentally responsible.”
Jones also regularly shares information with principals and teachers about new products and provides tips for keeping the school environment healthy and green.
We commend Jones and his team for the excellent work they are doing in Columbia Public School District and look forward to following their green cleaning program! You can read the full award profile on the American School & University website here!
(Photo courtesy of American School & University)
Plus! To get more information about green cleaning and to sign up for HSC's Green Clean Newsletter, visit www.greencleanschools.org.