The crew behind the summer deep clean at LOSD

by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Building engineer Brent Paul cleans out dust from a light fixture at Lake Oswego High School.The sight of polished floors, deep-cleaned carpeting and pristine walls. The absence of sticky, semi-dried gum brushing your hands when you fold them in your lap beneath your desk. A clean scent permeating the once-musty lockers. Dusted light fixtures and washed windows brightening the atmosphere.

And just like that, all is perfect for students when they return on the first day back to school.

“It’s crisp all of a sudden,” custodian Dustin Toney says.

At least that’s how it seems on day one — almost like a genie’s snapped his fingers. But, what really goes into the annual summer deep-clean at Lake Oswego School District?by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Custodian Dustin Toney hefts desks to make room for cleaning equipment in a Lake Oswego High School classroom.

Crews must cleanse 11 schools that kids will occupy this fall and spruce up the swimming pool, administration and tech buildings. These 14 buildings run from 46,000 square feet to 260,000 square feet. Needless to say, banishing dirt from so much space is not as simple as tidying a 2,500-square-foot home for a dinner party.

“We think that one person, if you look at it across an average, can clean two classrooms a day — that’s a lot of cleaning,” says Rob Dreier, LOSD director of facilities.

For the summer deep-clean, 26 building engineers and custodians scour surfaces, make whiteboards white again and replenish paper towel and soap dispensers.

Building engineer Brent Paul says he and his crew miss the students when school’s not in session.

“There are some exceptional students who pick us out and thank us for what we do,” says Paul, who works at LOHS. He and his team also miss the friendly employees, especially the lunch ladies who fuss over them.

“They get mad if we don’t eat lunch,” Paul says. “We’re getting skinnier over the summer.”

LOSD teachers seem to appreciate the cleaning crews, too, with 93 percent of educators saying they agree or strongly agree that “the school environment is clean and well maintained,” according to the New Teacher Center’s 2014 TELL Oregon survey. NTC uses surveys to inform school districts’ policies.

The local community also helps keep local schools ship-shape, though they mostly tend to the exterior. Community members often pitch in to weed landscaped areas or pick up garbage on school campuses. And for the first time that Dreier can recall, the two groundskeepers will be supported by a summer intern through Transitions Fundamentals, a program offered by the district’s special services department that provides young adults with job experience.

All the LOSD staff and community’s efforts to keep schools looking good matter to students, Dreier says.

“I’ve always found that if you have the building clean, nice and neat and treat the building with respect, by and large the kids will do the same thing,” he says.

How to help

To volunteer to keep your local school looking sharp, contact the principal. For a list of school websites, visit and select “Our Schools.” For more information on school locations and hours, call the district at 503-534-2000.

By Jillian Daley
503-636-1281, ext. 109
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