Late Thinking of Sanitizing Buses

So your school district has evidence of drug-resistant MRSA bacteria.

What do you do?

You clean the rooms, right.

Yesterday, McHenry County Blog published some emails about what Huntley School District 158 did in that regard, plus background that school board member Larry Snow wanted considered in public a school board meeting.

Buried in one of the emails from the privatized cleaning firm was information about cleaning the buses.

After not finishing the cleaning of Chesak Elementary School.

For those who attend public meetings, we often hear administrators praised as “professionals.”

Sometimes they are; sometimes you really wonder. Sometimes they make plain lousy decisions or are lousy decision makers.

Take District 158, for example.

Last Thursday, the district decided to “super clean” (their words, not mine) all of the schools over night.

This was an attempt to fight an outbreak of MRSA (drug-resistant staph) that one student Martin Elementary School came down with. (Martin and Chesak Elementary Schools are adjacent to each other at the Reed Road campus.)

Parents received a letter saying that the cleaning would be done in all the schools before the next day’s start of school.

This would suggest that there was an actual plan to get the work done and make sure it was done on time.

At 10 AM the cleaning company was told to super clean the buildings and have it done before school started. It is unclear whether they were told that they were cleaning to prevent a spread of MRSA.

Who among you would wait until 11 PM—13 hours later–on Thursday night to call the cleaning company to ask them also to thoroughly clean 60 or 70 buses and have it all done for when the buses leave early the next morning to pick up students?

Probably few of you.

That’s what happened, according to the email from the cleaning company’s project manager. Read Armando Avina’s words:

Thursday around 11 pm I received a call requesting us to clean the school buses and they were going to call back to find out how many people were in line to help out.

I don’t know what professional made the decision to clean the buses that late at night, but the Chief Operating Office is Glen Stewart.

You remember that he was hired for the $101,000 job (now $103,500) the summer before last, even though he didn’t meet the job specifications. He was a member of the school board at the time.

Since then, Stewart presided over the September, 2006, bus scheduling fiasco and managed to lease buses the district did not need.

How many people, taking how many minutes each, do you really think it takes to thoroughly clean 60 or 70 school buses?

So, who waited until 11 o’clock at night to decide to make the call?

Whoever it was, you can bet they will be saying that the decision was made by a “professional,” and it was in the best interests of the kids and the district and that the work was done in a quality, professional manner.

Only one problem with this story line:

All of the schools weren’t cleaned for the next day, as teachers found out when the kids and teachers showed up.

There was no plan to check that the “super cleaning” work was done and all of the schools were ready to open.

Plenty of paid administrators, but no plan.

And, were the parents of Chesak School children informed that all the classrooms weren’t cleaned before it opened?


In Crystal Lake’s Grade School District 47, parents receive an early morning phone call when school is closed because of snow or cold weather or just because the buses couldn’t be started (yes, unbelievably, that really happened one cold day last year).

Wouldn’t you think the Huntley School District would have a similar system to alert parents to problems?

Speaking of plans, do you think District 158 has a bacteria and contagious disease protocol in its emergency response handbook?

If you guessed “Yes,” you would be wrong.

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