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Struggling to hire enough janitors, a Minnesota high school pays its students $15 an hour to clean after class

Minnesota's largest school district was short 18 janitors — so they started hiring students to clean for two hours after class. ...

A custodian travels with supplies down the hall at the Mildred Avenue K-8 School building in Boston's Mattapan and for the reopening of school on July 9, 2020.
A custodian at the Mildred Avenue K-8 School in Boston on July 9, 2020.

  • The largest school district in Minnesota has launched a program to hire students as part-time janitors. 
  • The students must be at least 16 years old and are paid $15.30 an hour, The Star Tribune first reported.
  • It comes amid a national labor shortage of janitors, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and teachers. 

Minnesota's largest school district desperately needed 18 janitors — so they started hiring students to clean after class. 

The unusual work-study program launched at Blaine High School last week, The Star Tribune first reported. Students must be at least 16 years old and are paid $15.30 an hour, according to a job application posted by the district. 

Schools across the country are struggling to hire essential workers including substitute teachers, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and janitors — positions historically known for low wages and poor benefits.

When schools transitioned to virtual learning during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many workers left the industry for good. This has led some districts to offer signing bonuses up to $20,000 and recruit parents to fill substitute positions. 

Blaine High School's student janitors do not clean bathrooms or locker rooms and can take the bus home from work, Tom Karp, the assistant director of buildings and grounds, told the news outlet. Their primary responsibilities are sweeping, vacuuming, taking out the trash, and disinfecting surfaces. 

The lack of a commute opens up the application to younger students who may not have a driver's license, he added. 

Record numbers of Americans have been quitting their jobs in search of better working conditions and the greater cleaning industry is no exception. Residential cleaning companies told Insider they're having to turn down business and reschedule or even cancel regular customers because they can't find enough staff.

"We're trying everything we possibly can, but there's also a limit as to what a small business can offer … There's a fine line between getting employees and making enough profit to cover all your expenses," Jonathan Bergstein, owner of Maid to Sparkle, told Insider in November. 

Are you a current or former worker in the education sector? Got a story about the labor shortage? Contact this reporter at htowey@insider.com from a non-work email address. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

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