City janitorial services Parents should pay for clean lavatories at schools

Bonn · Cleanliness in schools and other municipal buildings remains a problem for the city building management (SGB). In 2016, the SGB registered 1,200 complaints about cleaning deficiencies.

Most cases were reported by the school maintenance caretaker, but the SGB itself also carried out around 400 inspections. It contracts private cleaning companies to provide janitorial services for some 620 buildings in Bonn. The annual cost of the services is around 8.2 million euros.

After complaints from schools had mounted, the SGB increased pressure on the authorities, already a year ago to improve the standard of cleaning. A central contact person was put in charge and 87 schools were invited to rate their cleaning services every month. An interim report indicated that there was an upward tendency in the quality of cleaning.

But some schools remain unhappy with the level of hygiene. One school director says the city sets time limits on the cleaning that are too tight, and takes the cheapest vendors, putting the cleaners under extreme pressure. Whole classrooms or hallways can’t be completed in the timeframe which is spelled out. The city says it is following recommended guidelines set by municipal authorities.

Cleanliness of school restrooms haa been in focus, with the SGB having established a working group to address the issue. They are cleaned only once a day, a second cleaning would add several hundred thousand euros a year.

School director Ute Sterr, representing primary schools, says “The SGB is trying really hard.” Praise also comes from chair of the city parent-teacher association Ulrich Meier. A letter from the SGB did not go over well, however. In a letter sent to all schools, it proposed to finance the supplementary cleaning of the lavatories via parent initiatives. This is already happening at the Tannenbusch Gymnasium and five other schools. The school directors rejected the request unanimously. Said Meier, “That’s just not possible.” Political discussion on this topic continues.

Orig. text: Andreas Baumann

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