Impact on Learning
Wichita Public Schools
PROJECT: Wichita Public Schools
LOCATION: Wichita, Kansas
COMPANY NAME: ProTeam, Inc.
According to Wichita Public Schools’ Custodial Supervisor Danny Morfin, the district’s focus on health sets the tone for their entire cleaning program. This motivates them to choose green products and renewable processes. “Our primary objective is health,” says Morfin. “When you have a healthy school, the appearance will follow, but if you focus on the appearance, you won’t necessarily get a healthy clean.
A healthy indoor environment helps support an effective learning environment. Frequent, proper vacuuming eliminates dust and other allergens that can create respiratory issues and affect the health of students and staff.
Morfin has worked in professional cleaning for the last 35 years. When ProTeam introduced the original lightweight backpack vacuum in the late ‘80s, Morfin was an early adopter. When he joined Wichita Public Schools in 2007, they were using upright vacuums for 90 percent of cleaning and had just a few backpacks.
“I introduced the staff to the ProTeam Super Coach Pro 6 and asked them to try it out and make comparisons to their old uprights,” says Morfin. “When I came back to pick up the demo units, they said, ‘I want to keep this.’”
Now that vacuum makes up about 80 percent of a fleet of 250 vacuums. All of their ProTeam vacuums feature HEPA filtration to support the district’s goals of Cleaning for Health.
“We keep uprights at strategic locations in the building to do quick spot cleaning like vacuuming entryway matting or cleaning as needed in areas without a lot of obstacles,” says Morfin. “In classrooms, open areas, libraries and areas with obstacles to maneuver, the backpacks perform better.”
The average classroom in the district is about 700 square feet. Their ProTeam backpacks clean each classroom in three to four minutes. With their old uprights, it took twice as long. According to Morfin, the time saved allows the staff to allocate more time to other areas and tasks, improving their overall service. He has also noticed reduced equipment maintenance and repairs from using ProTeam backpacks.
They have also used the GoFree Pro to vacuum along all the baseboards in a room at once. Without the need to change outlets, this considerably speeds up the process. All of these adaptations have allowed Morfin’s staff to clean faster, more thoroughly. “When we chose our vacuums, we could have chosen any brand that met our needs by being reliable, cost efficient and comfortable for our workers. ProTeam’s vacuums met those needs.”
IMPACT ON LEARNING
Wichita Public Schools provide their students and staff with a healthier educational environment. With enrollment at a little over 51,000, the district’s graduation rate has risen 21 percent in the last four years. East High School was named the Best High School in Kansas by US News and World Report. Not only academic achievements that set Wichita Public Schools apart from their peers. The Wichita Business Journal also honored them with the Healthiest Employers Award for 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. “We are very visible in the community. The way the buildings look represents the importance of education. The classroom is a distraction from learning if it’s not clean,” says Morfin.
The U.S. EPA’s 2010 study, entitled “How does Indoor Air Quality Impact Student Health and Academic Performance?” states, “Substandard environmental conditions in schools, such as insufficient cleaning or inadequate ventilation, can cause serious health problems for children.” It goes on to say that it also directly impacts student academic performance. This project is an example of providing a better learning environment where students feel safe and confident that their school is providing them with a healthy environment. Not only does this mean that students and teachers need to take less sick days, but the more relaxed, healthy attitude allows them to dedicate their full attention to teaching and learning.
This article originally appeared in the March 2015 issue of School Planning & Management.