School Climate & Safety

Chicago Schools Combat Rodents in ‘Cleanup Blitz’

By Karla Scoon Reid — February 04, 2004 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Chicago school system is mounting an unprecedented, multimillion- dollar “cleanup blitz” of the city’s 600 public schools to tackle a rodent problem.

Students will have to eat cold lunches as district employees, city workers, and perhaps outside contractors exterminate mice in schools and make repairs to ensure that buildings are rodent-proof.

District officials estimate that the cleanup will cost more than $4 million and could take up to three months to complete. Work was scheduled to begin late last month in 100 schools.

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley’s “Dumpster Task Force,” which was formed in 1994 to bolster the city’s efforts to enforce the sanitation code, alerted the 438,000-student district about its rodent trouble in December.

Of the 30 initial schools inspected since December, 13 failed and had to shut down their kitchens.

Task force members on a routine check of neighborhood businesses that serve or sell food found rodent burrows near a fence line around Lane Tech High School. Once inside the school, inspectors found signs of rodent infestation.

Warning to Workers

Matt Smith, the chief spokesman for the city’s streets and sanitation department, said inspectors found that school kitchens were being only “cosmetically cleaned.” He said district officials instead must emphasize protecting food, securing doors, and eliminating gaps in walls to prevent infestation by rats and mice.

He added that the district had responded to the problem. “It’s not that mice want a Chicago-style meal,” Mr. Smith said. “Any city can learn from our experience.”

Celeste Garrett, a Chicago schools spokeswoman, said employees would work around students’ schedules. She added that staff members may be suspended or fired if school facilities don’t remain clean.

In a news release, Arne Duncan, the district’s chief executive officer, warned last month, “I’m putting every school-based employee on notice today: If you can’t keep your schools clean, we’ll find someone who can.”

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Start Strong With Solid SEL Implementation: Success Strategies for the New School Year
Join Satchel Pulse to learn why implementing a solid SEL program at the beginning of the year will deliver maximum impact to your students.
Content provided by Satchel Pulse
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Science Webinar
Real-World Problem Solving: How Invention Education Drives Student Learning
Hear from student inventors and K-12 teachers about how invention education enhances learning, opens minds, and preps students for the future.
Content provided by The Lemelson Foundation
Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety From Our Research Center What Would Make Schools Safer? Here's What Educators Say
Respondents to a national survey of educators said measures like red flag laws, more school counselors are key to any school safety law.
7 min read
Photograph of crime scene tape and school.
F.Sheehan/Education Week and Getty
School Climate & Safety From Our Research Center 'The World Feels Less Stable': Educators' Sense of School Safety Right Now
6 in 10 educators said a mass shooting by a student or outsider was their biggest source of fear.
7 min read
Woman standing on a paper boat with a tsunami wave approaching.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
School Climate & Safety Texas Top Cop: Uvalde Police Could Have Ended Rampage Early On
The head of the Texas state police pronounced the law enforcement response an “abject failure.”
5 min read
FILE - Law enforcement, and other first responders, gather outside Robb Elementary School following a shooting, on May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. Law enforcement authorities had enough officers on the scene of the Uvalde school massacre to have stopped the gunman three minutes after he entered the building, the Texas public safety chief testified Tuesday, June 21 pronouncing the police response an “abject failure.”(AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills, File)
School Climate & Safety 2 Police Officers Had Chance to Shoot Uvalde School Gunman, Deputy Says
The unidentified officers said they feared hitting children playing in the line of fire outside the school.
2 min read
Flowers are placed around a welcome sign outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Wednesday, May 25, 2022, to honor the victims killed in Tuesday's shooting at the school.
Flowers are placed around a welcome sign outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, to honor the victims killed in the May 24th shooting at the school.
Jae C. Hong/AP