State Superintendent Candidate Assemblyman Tom Torlakson “Walks a Day in the Shoes” of high school night custodian


Terry Carter, Spokesperson
213-700-5617 |

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Los Angeles Unified School District classified employees, including Bell High School night custodian Theresa Aguilar, want to make sure State Superintendent of Public Instruction candidate Assemblyman Tom Torlakson understands the importance of their contribution to good public schools. The best way was to let him roll up his sleeves and see firsthand, working a shift with Theresa cleaning locker rooms, sweeping the gymnasium, emptying trash, and cleaning bathrooms.

“Every night, I’m responsible for cleaning the girls’ locker room (including showers, restrooms, and the coach’s office), the School Gymnasium (sweeping, light mopping, and restrooms), the boys’ varsity field house (including the football players’ locker room and restrooms), the faculty restrooms, the photo lab and graphic arts classrooms, and an Assistant Principal’s office,” explains Theresa. “But ever since they laid off three of our night custodians, I have eight more classrooms and another small gymnasium to clean every night.”

Theresa and her co-workers are giving Assemblyman Torlakson a chance to experience what it’s like trying to keep the school clean. “It used to say ‘Eagle Pride’ in front of the campus. I really try to keep the school clean so that the kids can still feel pride in their school,” says Theresa. A few years ago, there were 20 building and grounds workers at Bell. Now, due to staff cuts, there are only 13.

The State Superintendent makes decisions about the public school system, including cleanliness, campus safety, and the quality of school meals. Theresa and other District custodians are asking candidates for State Superintendent to use their campaign platforms to advocate for better education funding, including funding for clean, safe, and sanitary campuses that children need to be successful—and the good jobs necessary to provide that cleanliness. Massive state budget cuts have forced the Los Angeles Unified School District to eliminate 650 building and grounds positions this school year. The Governor’s recent budget proposal cuts nearly $2.5 billion more from our schools, which could force further District cuts.

“I know from my experience as a teacher how important the professional support staff are to helping every one of our students succeed in the classroom,” says Torlakson. “I am looking forward to joining Theresa, and the other members of the Bell High School team, so I can get a personal understanding about how recent budget cuts are impacting these workers and the vital services they provide in our public schools. The recent devastating cuts to education, and to these vital support services, are having an adverse impact on our ability to provide a safe and high-quality education to each and every one of our students.”

This is part of a series of “Walk a Day in My Shoes” events inviting all the leading State Superintendent candidates to learn firsthand the impact of budget cuts on student services and classified employees. Candidates must participate in a “Walk a Day in My Shoes” event to be considered for endorsement by workers represented by SEIU.

SEIU Local 99 is a union of more than 43,000 dedicated education workers who guide our children from preschool and kindergarten, through grade school, high school, and at community colleges. We are teachers, paraeducators, custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, first responders, and others working in schools, colleges, and administrative offices throughout Southern California. We are part of SEIU International, the fastest-growing union in North America with 2.1 million members.

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