Custodial supervisor implements new cleaning system


With a newly expanded budget, Richard Ortega looks to increase attention to detail in cleaning classrooms (Photograph by Akshita Dondeti/Talon).

Custodial supervisor Richard Ortega implemented a new cleaning system to ensure that classrooms are cleaned daily, beginning Feb. 18.

“My goal is to match the output of the rest of the staff, the teachers, the administration, the office,” Ortega said.

Prior to this system, trash was emptied out every day, but classrooms were only cleaned between two and three times per week.

My goal is to match the output of the rest of the staff, the teachers, the administration, the office,”

— Richard Ortega

“I think a little more attention to detail is appreciated by everybody from teachers to the office, administration, aids, and hopefully some students will notice as well,” Ortega said.

Director of business operations Julie Suarez said that she expects the program will bring “cleaner classrooms, better campus communication and greater accountability.”

The recent increase in K-12 school funding from the state budget has made it possible for the OPUSD Board of Education to add two full-time custodians to the OPHS staff. This increase in staff makes Ortega’s new cleaning program possible.

“The only obstacles [in the past] have been the lack of state funding to hire adequate staff,” Assistant Superintendent Martin Klauss wrote in an email. “Now that funding, and as a result, staffing has improved, I believe we have made great strides toward improving the school learning environment.”

Assistant Principal Jason Meskis agreed that the additional funding is instrumental in making Ortega’s program achievable.

“[Two extra custodians] is a big difference in terms of being able to get into classrooms and clean and keep the campus clean. An additional eight hours is a lot of time for someone to help out,” Meskis said.

According to Meskis, Ortega has been assembling a schedule for the cleaning system for about one month. He has worked with Suarez to identify the “high school’s critical daily needs along with the weekly and monthly tasks that needed to be integrated into the schedule.”

“We will all take on a section of the school that’s manageable so that we can clean on a daily basis, particularly the classrooms,” Ortega said.

Ortega’s plan largely focuses on removing the clutter from classrooms.

“The teachers come first,” Ortega said.

Freshman English teacher Kathleen Bowman recognized this commitment.

“[Ortega] has a servant’s heart,” Bowman said. “He communicates with us so well through a pure relationship and makes us feel like we’re part of the same team.”

Ortega also assured that the outside of the campus will also be given great attention.

“Anytime we have anyone coming to our campus, we want to make sure that they know that we are ranked as high of a high school for more than just our academics. We are all-around leaders in Ventura County and California,” Ortega said.

Ortega acknowledged the effort of the custodial staff.

“I think [the custodial staff members] all take pride in their job,” Ortega said. “You got to give them all the credit because they are the ones who are ultimately going to make it work or not.”