Even without students, school campuses are a busy place this summer, roofing at Monte Vista Elementary School, completion of the theatre arts building at Lawrence Jones and new athletic fields at Technology Middle School. While most students are enjoying their vacation time, Executive Director of Facilities, Maintenance and Operations Josh Savage and his crew are working to the make the community a better place.
Every parent wants to feel proud of the school their children attend. With nicer schools comes a more comfortable learning environment and more parents willing to send their children to the schools. According to Savage, the work they have done over the summer has netted positive response.
Besides the major projects at Monte Vista, Lawrence Jones and Technology Middle School there are under the radar projects that aren’t seen by most of the community. According to Savage, most of the work happens behind the scenes.
“Our maintenance, custodial and grounds staff are always busy in the summer time getting all the classrooms ready,” Savage said. “The floors need to be scrubbed and waxed down. We work as a team and go from site to site.”
The dirty work is what’s not seen by members of the community. Savage talked about how this work is the most important, but because it doesn’t stand out, the community might not notice.
So why exactly are these major projects taking place?
Savage explained that the roofing at Monte Vista Middle School is over 20 years old and it’s time for a change. Most of the roofing lasts anywhere from 15-20 years.
“Instead of re-roofing them, we’re rehabilitating them,” Savage said. “It’s a lot cheaper to do it that way.”
According to Savage rehabbing the roofs costs seven dollars a square foot instead of 30 dollars a square foot for a complete re-roof. Since the state only provides a certain amount of money for all the projects, saving money is important to the success.
Though Lawrence Jones has a current band room, there’s room for improvements. The current band room wasn’t meant to be a band room, so the natural progression from a band room is to build a theatre arts building.
At Tech, the old football field is being replaced with a newer field that features soccer, lacrosse and provides more safety.
“There’s already a field there,” Savage said. “We just want to replace it because it’s old, the kids don’t play football there anymore and this new field will be safer.”
As for the costs of these projects, Savage estimates the low end is about $340 million. Before the projects start an architect meets with Savage and his crew to develop a facility master plan. After this, a facilities committee meets to figure out what to spend the money on because as Savage says, the projects are really expensive so being fiscally responsible is key towards success.
Most of this money comes from local bonds. Savage’s crew have passed two 80 million-dollar bonds and are currently appealing for a third.
Theirs’ is a job that doesn’t get as much appreciation because community members either don’t know about them or take it for granted. Savage and his crew work long hours to make sure the summer projects are completed, and the children will be happy when they start school.
“I’ve had principals show up during the summer time and be shocked by how much work goes into getting the schools ready for the following year,” Savage said.
Savage and his crew might be under appreciated, but they don’t care. For them it’s all about being stewards of the community and doing whatever job is in front of them, not caring about being appreciated or noticed.