Lori Cossack binds papers at the Pak-Tyer machine.
Lori Cossack binds papers at the Pak-Tyer machine.

PATCHOGUE — School may be out all summer for children, but for many CSEA members working in our local school districts, the summer season is one of their busiest times.

Our members work at school districts across the state in numerous non-teaching positions, including maintenance, grounds, administrative support, bus drivers and monitors, nurses, cafeteria workers and teacher aides.

While some of these jobs are 10-month positions, others are year-round posts. One thing they all have in common — our schools can’t operate without our members and the services we provide.

In the Patchogue-Medford School District in Suffolk County, many of our members worked all summer to ensure things were ready for the start of the school year.

“At the end of the school year, teachers send out all of the work they need done for the beginning of the school year,” said Lori Cossack, a photocopy machine operator at the district’s South Ocean Middle School. “We get inundated from the end of June, well into September.”

With high-volume requests like back to school packets, it can take up to 60 hours to complete just one request. More than 7,000 of the back-to-school packets need to be mailed throughout the district.
Working alongside Cossack in the print shop is Mike Miller, also a photocopy machine operator.

Mike Miller investigates a problem with a copy machine.
Mike Miller investigates a problem with a copy machine.

“Our machines are running all of the time,” Miller said. “We get hundreds of requests. When the machines break down, it can be stressful because we are worried about making our deadline.”

If there is no technician readily available to fix the printer, Miller works to fix the machine. Miller has become astute at correcting small mechanical issues.

In South Ocean Middle School’s custodial office, CSEA Patchogue-Medford School District Operations and Maintenance Unit 2nd Vice President and Chief Custodian Sal Lombardo supervises Youth Core workers.

The students work with the custodial department during the summer for school credit. It’s one of the many responsibilities the custodial department undertakes during the summer.

Sal Lombardo sharpens a scraper at the custodial office in South Ocean Middle School.
Sal Lombardo sharpens a scraper at the custodial office in South Ocean Middle School.

“We empty every classroom in the building,” said Lombardo. “We strip down the floors, wash the walls down and refinish the floors. After the floors have been scrubbed clean, we re-wax them.”

“We also empty every locker, clean the locker and change the combinations for the new school year,” said Lombardo.

In the event that the custodial crew completes cleaning the school early, they start looking for repairs.
“We do plaster work, spackling, painting and fix light fixtures,” said Lombardo. “Basically, we fix anything that could be considered an eyesore.”

For a school that Lombardo says is around 120,000 square feet, basic maintenance requires a tremendous amount of work.

As if that were not enough, the custodial staff also cleans and reorganizes South Ocean Middle School’s storage unit and accepts various deliveries to accommodate different departments in the school.

Through it all, our members keep a great attitude.

“I work with a great group of people,” said Lombardo. “We work hard, but we also have a lot of fun.”

— Wendi Bowie


About Author

Wendi Bowie

Wendi Bowie is an award-winning journalist who has focused the majority of her career on covering Long Island news. Her efforts have earned her the Press Club of Long Island Media Award for Public Affairs and the Long Island Coalition for Fair Broadcasting Folio Award. Wendi was drawn to her current position as Communications Specialist for CSEA’s Long Island Region because it speaks to her strong desire to champion the rights of the common man and woman.

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