By Matt Kane
DELANO Students and teachers filled the hallways and classrooms all over the Delano district last week for the start of nine long months of classes and learning. The first day of school Tuesday marked a new beginning and the end of summer vacation.
Summer vacation? What is summer vacation?
For those students and teachers, it means family trips and three months of relaxation. For the members of the Delano Schools custodial staff, there is no such thing as a summer vacation.
“Summer for the custodians is when the real work starts,” said Head Custodian Marty Kittok, who graduated from Delano in 1974 and is in his 28th year as a custodian at his old school. “We do all of our heavy-duty cleaning, carpet shampooing, wash the walls, check the lights you name it. From top to bottom, all the classrooms get our strict attention. From electrical to paint, summer is our time to get to work.”
While the students and teachers were busy golfing, fishing, water skiing, riding roller coasters and visiting grandma during the summer months, Kittok and his crew were busy stripping and refinishing three gymnasium floors, lining the parking lots and painting the curbs, shampooing the carpets, polishing floors, inspecting the elevators, changing air filters, cleaning and inspecting the boiler room and kitchen equipment, and unloading trucks full of paper products.
“It’s a big job,” said Kittok of being a custodian at Delano. “You have to be a jack of all trades to be a custodian.”
Or “Superman,” according to Kittok.
This past summer, as with most, also included an extensive list of unique projects to be done. The custodians prepared the high school pool to be painted, completely relocated the district office, constructed special education classrooms in the old district office, relocated the middle school teachers lounge, installed more than 80 new student lockers, relocated the equipment shed at the tennis courts, and helped with the addition of the new safe trails walking path that extends from Elm Avenue to the elementary school.
“This summer was a blur because we hit the ground running,” said Kittok.
“Unless you are in the district during the summer, it’s hard to imagine how much work is completed during those (summer) months,” said Delano Schools Superintendent Matt Schoen. “Quite frankly, the summer can be an extremely busy time of the year, depending on how many major projects are scheduled.”
The work on these special projects was all performed in addition to the regular maintenance work of vacuuming, scrubbing, dusting, repairing, mowing and much more in the buildings and on the school grounds.
In all, the project list Kittok quickly wrote up at the request of a reporter included 38 items.
To accomplish the items on the list, 16 custodians worked approximately 40 hours per week from the first week of June until the final week of August.
“I’m proud of our custodians. Whatever job I give them, they tackle and they handle. They do quality work,” said Kittok.
The craziness that comes with the amount and the variety of chores on the list for summer calms down once school begins.
“When school starts, things become more structured. During the summer, we come in during the day, but, when school is in, their work day starts at 3 p.m. and ends at 11:30 p.m. at night,” Kittok said.
When school is in session, keeping the buildings clean is the routine.
“Every night, every room gets vacuumed and cleaned. The custodians set up their routines and that’s what they do every night,” said Kittok.
Those who work the day shift during the school year are responsible for keeping the buildings running well and the students, teachers and staff happy.
“Usually when equipment doesn’t work, the first people they call are the custodians,” Kittok said. “For me, every day is different. You have heating or air conditioning that goes down and you have cold teachers or hot teachers or whatever, I’m the guy they call. If there is something broke, we fix it. If we can’t fix it, we call somebody who can.”
Rarely do they make a call.
As for the best and the worst things about being a custodian, both revolve around the kids, according to Kittok.
“It’s always nice to see the kids,” he said. “One thing about the kids is that there is so much energy there. Getting older, I miss that energy and it’s nice to see it in other people.”
The kids bring energy but they can also be messy.
“For the most part, the kids are good. Kids are kids,” said Kittok. “They still need direction. That comes from their teachers and coaches to learn that responsible behavior. That the same rules from home should be followed here. To pick up after yourself and treat others as you would like to be treated.”
It is those students who keep Kittok and his staff members coming back.
“There is job security because you know you will have to do it again tomorrow,” he said. “If it wasn’t for the kids, we wouldn’t have a job.”
And the worst part of the job?
“When kids get sick,” Kittok said. “Since I am in charge, I usually assign that to one of the other custodians.”
Kittok, who farms as a second job, said the position as a custodian has made him a better person.
“It has been good for me. It has improved my character and my personality. It’s been a good time,” he said.
Bev Beehler, who is on the buildings and grounds crew, wasn’t sure what she was getting herself into when she joined the custodial staff seven years ago.
“I didn’t think I would like being a custodian but now I love it,” she said. “I like that we have our own areas and responsibilities and are not on an assembly line.”
“I like the challenge,” said Randy Knoll, who, in his 29th year, is the senior member of the staff.
Kittok and his crew members take pride in their work and in keeping Delano Schools clean and safe every day.
“I love my job and I cannot think of anything negative about it,” he said. “A janitor sweeps and cleans, whereas a custodian takes custody of the building. He puts in the light bulbs and repairs the pencil sharpener. He is much more involved than people think. At home people might clean their house once per week, whereas we clean these rooms every night. Our vacuums literally wear out.”
The full-timers on the Delano custodial staff
Custodian Position and Years of Service:
Randy Knoll Night LeadHS, MS 29
Marty Kittok HeadCustodian 28
Dennis Hanson DaysGrounds, HS, MS 23
Charlie Anderson NightHS, MS 14
Susan Swenberger DaysHS, MS 12
James Schoening NightsHS, MS 12
Tim Esler NightsES 11
Greg Gable NightsHS, MS 11
Scott Yanke Day LeadES 10
Beverly Beehler DaysHS, MS 7
Allan Anderson NightsES 3
Martin Lira LandaMS 2
Steven TaylorES 1
David GraeberMS R
HS-High School MS-Middle School ES-Elementary School R-Rookie