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Maintenance Dept. works hard over summer to ready classrooms

Scott Grier, at right, and Scott Elms, both UCPS carpenters, install a monitor in a classroom of the future at Piedmont Middle School. (Below) Prospect Elementary Principal Kim Chinnis said she is looking forward to the completion of the major renovations at her school. (Middle photo) Jimmy Martin, left, and James Maples, both UCPS electricians, rewire classrooms at Prospect Elementary for new technology. (Bottom photo) UCPS District Lead Custodian Odell Kilgo performs top scrubbing at Walter Bickett Elementary School, a procedure that precedes waxing the floors.

Empty classrooms during the summer is the perfect time to perform major renovation projects like re-roofing and re-flooring, all necessary to keep the schools a safe and pleasant place for students all year long.

“Safe and secure can mean a lot of things," said UCPS Facilities Director Don Hughes. "It means safe air. We have to keep the humidity levels down so mold doesn’t grow. It's all about a safe and secure environment for learning."

Hughes said summer months are his department's busiest time. His staff not only continues the ongoing maintenance of UCPS schools, but they also perform the major, time-consuming projects as well.

“One of the biggest things we have to do during the summer months is strip and re-wax all the floors,” Hughes said. “That’s six million square feet. We put seven layers of wax down and over the school year, it wears down.”

Hughes said the stripping and waxing of each school has to be done in segments. “You can’t do the whole school at one time. You have to move all the furniture out, then you strip, buff and start putting on the wax in layers. You have to do a couple of layers and let them dry.”

To offer some perspective, one UCPS high school averages about 200,000 square feet. This painstaking process usually takes all summer to complete at each school.

The summer months are also the perfect time to do major renovation projects. “We’re doing a massive re-roofing at Western Union Elementary,” Hughes said. “We’re also doing a re-flooring project at Prospect Elementary. When students come back to Prospect, almost the entire school will have new flooring, new paint, new cabinets and better technology.”

Another large summer project is the track replacement at Parkwood High School. “They haven’t been able to do a track meet there for several years because the track surface was delaminating and it was not safe,” Hughes said. “There was also drainage issues around the football field, and we’re fixing that, also.”

UCPS Assistance Director of Facilities Danny McManus added that one of the biggest challenges for the Maintenance Department is uncertainty as it relates to the budget.

“You can plan and re-plan, but at the end of the day, you know what you can spend each month, all the way through the school year,” he said. “So, now you’re in April and May and you’re spending for emergencies only, and then the eight-year-old chiller, that was supposed to last 15 or 20 years, has gone down hill. Where are we going to get that money?”

McManus added that during the summer, the department’s groundskeepers are especially busy because the school system has 1,100 acres around the schools to maintain. It's a very big job that includes trimming back trees and shrubs around the system’s 53 schools.

"They start out hot and heavy in March and April, and are full force until mid October,” McManus said.

This also includes the maintenance of 33 playground areas. “Mulch is a never-ending process with playgrounds,” he said. 

Hughes said the main goal of the Facilities Department is to maintain a safe and secure environment for learning.

To find out more about current renovation and construction updates, go to the UCPS facilities web page.

Written by: Deb Bledsoe - UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Jul 16, 2015 by Deb Bledsoe

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