Fewer than 100 staff clean more than a million feet of building space totaling nearly 30 miles and maintain more than 350 acres all in the name of education.

The Copperas Cove Independent School District custodial and groundskeeping staff prepared buildings and their surrounding properties for the return of more than 8,000 students on Wednesday.

Eighty-five custodians in CCISD cleaned buildings measuring a total square footage of more than 1.5 million feet.

Break that down into just hallways not counting classrooms, cafeterias and other common areas and it equates to nearly 30 miles. CCISD Director of Support Services Gary Elliott said employees take personal responsibility and accountability for their jobs.

“Pride, caring, dedication, and hard work is how we pull this task off,” Elliott said.

CCISD employs six employees for groundskeeping duties on more than 360 acres.

Rick Kirkpatrick, CCISD deputy superintendent of operations and student services, said several campuses or portions of campuses were built more than 50 years ago, but still appear like new.

“As I roam the hallways of our CCISD campuses, I can’t help but notice the care taken by the custodial staff and the pride they have in the appearance of their campuses,” Kirkpatrick said. “I have been on campuses with vendors and visitors to the district, and they marvel at the cleanliness of our buildings and the shine on the floors.

“The custodial staff cleans every inch of the campuses from top to bottom, strips the old wax off the floors and applies several coats of fresh wax until the floors are so shiny you can see yourself in them. The staff even digs the gum from under the desks.”

Elvira McRae supervises CCISD’s custodial staff and has been with the district 40 years.

“Each year our custodial department is challenged with having all our campuses ready for the return of all staff by early August … and we have a lot of construction projects going on on many of our campuses,” McRae said.

CCISD custodian Laura Quinones said she doesn’t just take care of school buildings, but the most important contents within the school, the students.

“Custodians are there when our students arrive each day. They are there when our students leave for the day, and they are there on Family Nights, Open House, weekend games in the gyms, our stadiums, and school festivals,” she said. “It’s literally a dirty job, but we are willing to do it to keep our children and staff in a safe and healthy learning environment.”

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