Lack of maintenance staff causes issues

Locked bathrooms create inconvenience, frustration


Carissa Prestholdt

Photo illustration

Abby Intveld and Dani Orloff

Searching the halls for an open girls’ bathroom, freshman Isra Mohamed said she feels the locked bathrooms take away from learning during the school day.  

“I think it’s stupid because sometimes needing to use the bathroom is an emergency and having to go to another bathroom because the other one is being locked is just like a waste of time,” Mohamed said.

According to the facilities manager Tom Bravo, many custodial employees are beginning to retire, which is causing a lack of available maintenance workers for the high school.

“We are competing with the government, other districts and other entities because they all want the same type of employee,” Bravo said. “We need a custodian that has a boarders license and not too many are out there right now.”

Assistant principal Jessica Busse said the decrease in maintenance workers has contributed to the frequent locked bathrooms throughout the high school.

“Some things just aren’t getting fixed so because they aren’t getting fixed, we can’t risk somebody using the bathroom and it causing a bigger issue,” Busse said. “So, that’s one of the reasons why the bathrooms are locked.”

According to Busse, miscommunications between the daytime and nighttime maintenance staff contributes to the locked bathrooms.

“Because of the shortness, we are also dealing with the fact that they get locked at night after they get cleaned so they know they have been cleaned. Then sometimes they don’t get unlocked in the morning,” Busse said.  

Busse said bathrooms may remain locked when the school day begins until staff members are notified.     

“We don’t know that they are locked until somebody finds them but we also have students saying that they are locked and don’t use those bathrooms and then they’re not really locked so all those contribute,” Busse said.

Mohamed said she believes bathrooms should be kept open, due to their routine use.

“Some people really need to use the bathroom and they can’t hold it in so therefore I think bathrooms shouldn’t be locked,” Mohamed said.

Freshman Ben Matthews said the distance between classrooms and open bathrooms makes trips to the bathroom cumbersome.

“It’s kind of frustrating cause you got to go to other places it’s like inconvenient,” Matthews said.

According to Bravo, the maintenance staff and him are prioritizing criticals areas of the school in response to the lack of custodians.

“It’s not that we forgot about (certain areas) or it’s not that we don’t care, cause we do,” Bravo said. “It is just that we have to have priorities and our priorities are areas like bathrooms, hallways, cafeterias, and areas like that,” Bravo said.

According to assistant principal Todd Goggleye, there is no correlation between students vaping and locking the bathrooms.

“We haven’t done anything like the rumors that we lock the bathrooms to stop vaping, that’s not the case,” Goggleye said. “There’s usually mechanical issues like the toilet or urinal is not flushing or there’s flooding.”

Busse said decreased maintenance staff is just one of the many factors causing the bathrooms to be closed.

“Another one of the reasons is vandalism and just having the staff and manpower to clean up and take care of the situation,” Busse said.