An Analysis of Custodial Working Conditions, Pay, and Respect in Crofton High School

Asher Zumwalt, Staff Writer

Being a custodian is by no means an easy job, and this is no different at Crofton High. Long hours, manual labor, and attending to all of the many things required to keep a school running is a lot of work, yet somehow they often end up with the short end of the stick in terms of respect and salary. Students leave trash all over, destroy bathrooms, and are in return given pay comparable to that of employment that teenagers may work at. 

The Target in Waugh Chapel has jobs starting at $15.75, AACPS Custodians have jobs starting at $14.31. But how do students feel about this?

Junior Nick Fine said, “I don’t feel like they get enough respect and the students take advantage of them,” and that “It’s a hard job with not enough pay…still not enough based on the amount of work they put in.” 

Additionally, another CrHS student who wished to stay anonymous said they “think the staff is treated well but I do believe students make a lot of unnecessary messes that the custodial staff has to end up cleaning.” So it is clear that not the entirety of the student body is completely unaware of the hardships and effort that goes into the occupation as well as how we as students, can make their jobs more difficult. They agreed that the custodial staff deserves more pay, specifically noting their late hours and large amount of work.

Educator pay is known for being notoriously low, but more often than not, custodians get left even worse off.  It isn’t until after ten years of working in the county, that all positions a school custodian could hold, are they guaranteed to make what MIT considers a living wage for one adult living alone in Anne Arundel County.

The AACPS pay scale is based on a system of ‘Grades’ which are like the level or position at which they work. This ranges from Custodian I-Custodian V. For example, an individual who holds the position of Custodian I, makes $17.76/hr at step nine. Which is $0.31/hr less than the living wage for one adult worker in Anne Arundel County who has no dependents. Steps are the amount of years an employee has worked within AACPS. So, step nine would be nine years of working in an AACPS school. All of this data is listed above in the chart. 

A student said in response to this information that, “Human beings that work should automatically be paid higher than the average living wage.” And this might be evident in the people who may be leaving their occupations for better opportunities. It’s been seen with the teacher shortage, the substitute shortage, and the bus driver shortage, but little has been said or done about the shortage of custodial staff. Currently there are 93 custodial staff vacancies in AACPS. 

Working mostly behind the scenes, they do work often neglected or considered undesirable by other staff. In other words since their skills are much less transferable and do work others may refuse to do, their slack is not picked up as easily, resulting in work becoming more strenuous for those who remain. And they certainly do work hard, this school has been clean, stayed clean, and continues to be clean, which contributes to the pristine quality of our school just as much as the architecture and the design.

The qualities of a good job include simply that the conditions are good and/or the pay is good. If the pay is not good ,then they most certainly deserve to feel well thanked, recognized, and appreciated for their work. As individuals it would prove difficult to adjust their pay on one’s own, but as an individual anyone is capable of simply being more appreciative and respectful.

Respect can be shown in many ways. Consider the comparison between teacher appreciation week and custodian appreciation day. Teachers may get flowers, gifts, cards, or even just words of gratitude. Custodians on the contrary often get less of or none of these things. Also, custodian appreciation day passed on October 2, without any announcement or school-sponsored appreciation or recognition of these staff members.

At the time of this article’s publication, Principal Ms. Kathryn Feuerherd did not respond to a request for a comment for this article.