A blue uniform with his name stitched across the chest is the first identifying factor of the building custodian, while the second is the broom or mop he may clutch in his hand.

A blue uniform with his name stitched across the chest is the first identifying factor of the building custodian, while the second is the broom or mop he may clutch in his hand.

"Mr. Heyder, we need your help," are the words that follow.

With the call, the custodian is off and running to handle the latest crisis as he fills the role of building firefighter.

The oddity is the words are said throughout three separate buildings in the Hilliard City School District.

Gary Heyder, custodian and president of the Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE) Local 310, is not the only "Mr. Heyder" who dons a blue uniform.

He and his two brothers, Craig and Thomas, are employed by the district where they once attended classes.

All three have a lot to be grateful for this Thanksgiving, since they, and their fellow custodians, are once again secure in their jobs after an operating levy was approved by the voters earlier this month.

Craig Heyder, the custodian at Horizon Elementary, was the first to be hired as a custodian for the school district 19 years ago.

"He was hired the year they opened up Davidson High School," said Gary.

He advised his younger sibling, Gary, that it was not a bad job and he should look into taking his civil service test.

Eighteen years ago, Gary came on staff.

The two Heyder brothers convinced their younger sibling, Thomas, to follow in their footsteps 10 years ago.

Thomas is currently a second shift custodian at Norwich Elementary and union secretary.

Last month the siblings wondered if the voters would approve an operating levy.

While they knew their jobs would be secure because they are high enough on the seniority ladder, the Heyders were concerned for some of their co-workers.

"One of our custodians, on the Reduction in Force (RIF) list, his wife is due in February," Gary said. "He would have lost all benefits. That would have devastated his family, losing pay and having that huge bill."

All of the custodians in the district wondered how the loss of 10 third shift employees, if the levy failed, would affect their jobs.

In 2002-03 when seven custodians were cut from the budget, Gary said, he was working at Darby High School.

Custodians were reassigned and Gary found himself moving back to an elementary.

Since he began working in the district, he said, he has worked at the elementary, middle school and high school levels.

His buildings were Hoffman Trails, Norwich and Brown elementary schools as well as Weaver, Heritage and Memorial middle schools and Davidson and Darby high schools.

"I love being around students and the kids," he said. "I currently have a senior and junior, so it is kind of fun watching the progression of the kids. I feel like I can relate to the kids. It's kind of funny, I have moved along with them. I have been in the elementaries, middle schools and high schools. As my kids progress, I change as well."

After a year of being separated from the high school, Gary said, another custodian retired and he was able to move back to Darby.

"Stability of the job is one of the reasons I came here," he said. "This is supposed to be a stable job and the way school funding has been coming, it's not."

He takes pride in the way his building looks.

As soon as Gary steps through the doors of the high school he heads for the Commons area to check the trash.

Then he moves to the copier room to ensure the staff has plenty of paper in stock.

After inventory in the stock room, the first-shift custodian cleans the rest rooms.

"That's all before the first period bell," he said.

He has a routine after that, but it is often disrupted by emergencies.

"Keeping up on disinfecting," he said is the toughest part of the job. "Kids touch everything. It is very difficult to keep up on every door handle and desk tops. It is expected in the bathrooms, you understand that, but when you start talking about every single pencil sharpener, anything their hands touch that's what we have to worry about."

Losing custodians, he said, means doing more in the same time period.

When Craig and Gary began working for the school district they laughed because of the similarity between them and their grandfather and his brother who worked together for Columbus and Southern Electric Company for more than 40 years.

"Me and my brother were kind of joking going 'We will probably end up retiring from the school district about the same with 30 some years,'" said Gary.

Now that the levy has passed they think it still may happen.