“I got into this job when I was sixteen,” said Rob Carron, Franklin’s head custodian. Carron has been working for PPS for over 40 years. “I have the best job in the world,” he said.
Franklin High School simply wouldn’t run without Carron and his team. However, Carron shared that PPS is currently understaffed by a margin of about 60 workers. During the night shift, he can only manage to maintain three to five workers. While talking, Rob’s phone rang. When he got off the call, he said, “that was the guy who runs Grant. He was down to two custodians at night. Just imagine two people trying to clean that entire school.”
Carron’s office sits in the back, bottom corner of the school. Right by the bathrooms at the bottom right of the SS stairwell stand two large swinging doors. Inside the custodial office, it’s instantly apparent that this room is important. Inside, Carron’s office is filled with photos of his grandchildren and fishing trips. Two monitors sit on his desk; one displays a camera feed of the school hallways, and the other displays a complex system of work orders that Carron fills out constantly. Carron’s job requires immense focus.
As a student, it can often feel as though there’s a large disconnect between you and the school. As students, we are almost always unaware of the highly complex nature of an overcrowded building housing over 2,000 students. Carron is required to take care of the school; it’s part of his job description. But Carron cares for the school and community more than most of us even know.
Carron explained that “there is always a problem. There’s always something to do.” Waking up at 4:30 AM to survey the school before anyone arrives is not easy. The custodians have a physically demanding job. Without constant surveillance and attention to the details of the schools, things slowly start to fall apart. Last year, on the first day of school, a pipe burst inside Franklin. Carron was forced to shut down the water line that comes in from Woodward, removing all running water from the school while the problem was being fixed.
Carron and his team deal with problems like this all the time. Even if they aren’t on such a massive scale, the smaller problems pile up. Coupled with an incredibly small staff, these issues are exacerbated.
“I worked at 42 different schools [before Franklin],” Carron said. “[Working at that many schools] was the requirement back then to get into this position.”
When asked about his possible retirement he answered in a very thoughtful tone: it felt like he had thought about this for a while. “You know, [retirement] is always there,” he said. “But I’m lucky. I have the best business manager in the whole world, Sonya Harvey.” Carron works more closely with Sonya than with anyone else in the school. “Honestly, I probably would’ve retired if it wasn’t for her. She is one of the best things that has ever happened to Franklin.” Carron spoke of her very fondly throughout our discussion.
His relationship with Harvey seems to be a reflection of his relationship with all the students and staff of Franklin. He reiterated that he truly believes Franklin is the best school he has ever worked with. “I love talking with the students,” he said. “I don’t know their names, but I have a [connection] with so many of them.”
Carron’s relationships are wide-ranging and deep. “I still get phone calls from places I worked 30 years ago.” Carron is the type of person you go to when you need a problem fixed, or when you just need to talk. The custodial staff at Franklin keep every aspect of the building alive, and Carron couldn’t be happier about maintaining that responsibility.