Full-time positions at Texas State have not kept up with student enrollment. This discrepancy is causing some growing pains for departments like custodial services in their attempt to streamline operations.
Fermin Torrez, custodial services supervisor, said the total number of custodians, about 100, has not changed in the past two years. Student enrollment has increased by 3,310 students in the last two years, according to statistics from Institutional Research.
He said the growth of the university has led to a need for outsourcing staff, expanded responsibilities for custodians and less cleaning time for classrooms. Torrez said restrooms, hallways and entranceways have taken priority over classrooms because of the high usage rates. He said classrooms get cleaned about once a week instead of once a day because they are not empty as often a change enacted a few years ago..
Torrez said another change being made to the custodial services department as a result of campus growth is switching some of the daytime staff to a night shift.
Torrez said about 50 percent of current employees work in staggered shifts during a 5 a.m. – 5 p.m. window, while the other half work evenings and nights. He said the rise in student traffic during the day has caused management to consider moving some day staff to night shifts.
He said custodians will have to clean certain buildings with heavy daytime traffic, such as Alkek Library and the music building, at night to avoid the crowds and stay efficient.
Jon Gaddis, crew supervisor for custodial services, said managers are evaluating buildings and staff to determine how many staff should be changed to night shifts.
“It’s a change that’s going to happen,” Gaddis said. “We are just seeing the best time to make it.”
That shift change is causing stress for some custodians.
Custodian Connie Hughes said her son graduated from Texas State and she is currently raising two adopted grandchildren, both 9 years old. She said the possibility of having to move to a night shift has given her more stress than the additional buildings she has to clean.
“I drop both my kids off at daycare every morning and pick them up from school,” Hughes said. “If I had to change to night shift, I would have to change my entire life around.”
Hughes is not the only employee facing an unwanted shift change.
Custodian Susie Gonzales became emotional when talking about raising her 16-year-old granddaughter, but said she would not quit if her shift got moved to night-time.
Gonzales said her granddaughter has a medical condition and she is very close with her.
“I can’t imagine not being there to see her in the mornings and help her with her homework,” Gonzales said, fighting back tears. “I wouldn’t quit but I would pray that my retirement comes sooner than later so I could still be a part of my granddaughter’s life.”
Gaddis said managers have worked with the custodians on developing new ideas on how to be more efficient. He said he has received mixed feedback on switching some employees to night shifts.
“We know it will be an issue and we understand we are going to be rotating people’s lives,” Gaddis said. “Both sides are going to have to be flexible and adaptable.”
Hughes said she has noticed more responsibilities in the same hours, but that she does not have a problem getting the work done.
She said three years ago she was responsible for three floors in the Nelson wing of the Agriculture building and now she monitors the Taylor-Murphy building and other areas in The Quad in addition to her three floors in the Agriculture building.
“I’m not complaining about the extra work,” Hughes said. “I know we [custodians] can pull it together and get the work done.”