School is out for the summer at Indian Lakes Elementary School, but that doesn’t mean that there is an absence of activity. It is just one week after the school year ended and School Plant staff are hard at work replacing the carpet in the main office and library.
“There’s no such thing as a summer break at School Plant,” Director Eric Woodhouse said with a chuckle.
School Plant Services is the school’s division’s maintenance office, with 200 employees who are responsible for the upkeep and care of more than 11 million square feet of building space. In addition to the daily workers, the division has a night crew that reports at 2 p.m. to perform their tasks without interrupting the educational process during the school year. A number of staffers respond to emergency calls after hours and weekends
“Our mission is to provide a safe and healthy working and learning environment through professional quality service,” Woodhouse said.
More than a handful of trades are employed by School Plant Services. Plumbing, carpentry, electrical, electronics, tile/glass, roofing, painting, HVAC and Occupational Health and Safety Specialists are all school division employees.
“For the day to day maintenance, it’s more cost effective and provides better customer service’” Woodhouse said. “There is value in having employees who have worked 25, 30 even 50 years who know our buildings and take pride in maintaining them.”
Summer is always the busiest time for School Plant and this year is no different. Workers will tackle approximately 80 projects in schools across city. Those projects include stage curtain replacements, painting entire schools, HVAC system replacement, intercom replacement, lighting upgrades, gym bleacher repairs, auditorium house lighting and descaling descale sewage lines. Woodhouse said that summer is ideal for this type of work.
“It allows staff and contractors to work in the buildings with little to no interruption in their work. There are fewer school staff, no students and safety is always a top priority, so the summer is the best time do these major projects.”
Not surprisingly, the goal is to get in and out before everyone returns.
“Our target date is Aug. 15,” Woodhouse continued. “We try to complete projects before teachers return to the schools and it allows the school to get ready for the start of the year.”