Schools in poor repair

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Les Martinez, New Mexico Public Schools Facilities Authority facilities maintenance and operations support manager, reported serious lapses in preventative maintenance at all district schools at the Socorro school board meeting Monday night.

The PSFA manager and his staff along with Socorro schools facilities supervisor Craig de Young inspected all the district schools earlier this year, photographing examples of maintenance performance in several key areas at each facility. Martinez gave a PowerPoint presentation of Parkview’s Facility Maintenance Assessment Report (FMAR) to the board Monday.

Parkview scored poorly in the report, especially in the area of site utilities, roof maintenance, building interiors and housekeeping. All of the performance items in the report’s building equipment and Systems section were reported in poor condition, including electrical, lighting, fire protection systems, heating/cooling/ventilation, kitchen equipment and plumbing. Maintenance management at the school was also rated as poor in five of six items.

Some of the deficiencies pose an immediate safety risks, such as an unsecured high voltage unit and boilers that pose a shock hazard. Housekeeping issues, especially in storage areas, were also cited as critical safety problems. In one case, flammable materials were stored improperly, and several closets were so cluttered people could not enter and exit them safely.

The district has remedied the most pressing problems at Parkview, spending $12,000 to repair boilers, $4,000 to replace air conditioning filters and $2,000 to replace burned-out lights, according to Donald Monette, school district executive director of finance and operations.

Monette said the walk-through was “an eye opener.”

“I was shocked when he showed us the cooler chiller room,” Monette said.

Martinez said Parkview was not the only New Mexico school with a poor maintenance rating. Last year, his agency conducted a study, examining a sample of the state’s 900 schools.

“Sixty percent of our sample was in the poor/marginal range,” he said.

He said educators tend to focus on their students, which is their mission, but effective maintenance of school facilities ends up saving everyone time and money in the long run. He referred to one of his grandmother’s Spanish sayings, which roughly translates as “What would have cost a little to fix at first, will cost much more if you put it off.”

Socorro school district hasn’t updated its preventative maintenance plan in three years, Martinez said. Without a workable preventative maintenance plan reviewed yearly, taxpayers’ investment in school facilities is in jeopardy, he said.

“We’re burning the money,” Martinez told the board. “There hasn’t been a solid preventative maintenance program since 2010. We need to stabilize the (maintenance) department. Craig (de Young) has been pushing the needle the right way.”

Martinez said the school maintenance director needs to update the board on maintenance issues monthly.

“If you defer maintenance, what costs $1 today to repair will cost $3 or more later,” he said. In the case of boiler repair at Parkview, he said Socorro spent $12,000 now on repairs, but it would have been only $2,000 to $3,000 a few years ago.

If districts do not have a current preventative maintenance plan in place, they may not be awarded capital outlay money in the future for new facilities, according to NMPSFA director Robert Gorrell in a telephone interview after the meeting.

FMAR reports available at the meeting showed similar poor maintenance scores for San Antonio and Torres schools.

Consideration of he final draft of the district’s preventative maintenance plan will be an action item on the next regular school board meeting.

In other business: • Superintendent Randall Earwood announced Socorro’s recipients of the New Mexico School Board Association’s Excellence for Student Achievement awards: high school biology teacher Dr. Azza Ezzat, Socorro Family School parent volunteer Jayne Sager and seniors Beatriz Nava and Dezirae Armijo. The Excellence for Student Achievement Award recognizes students, volunteers, community members and staff who have made outstanding contributions to student achievement in their district. Plaques will be awarded later.

• Earwood announced the nomination of Dezirae Armijo as the board’s choice to compete for a NMSBA scholarship. One student from each of the state’s eight regions will receive a $1,000 award.

• Earwood said the district will receive $77,000 from the state to fund elementary reading programs in the district. The award will allow Title I funds to be transferred to high school reading and language arts programs. The district will also receive $218,000 to fund an all-day pre-school program at Parkview and a half-day program at San Antonio School. The district was awarded a $187,000 New Mexico K—3 Plus grant. The K-3 Plus grant will fund 25 additional instructional days in the summer for children who need to catch up in basic subjects.

• The board approved a changes to the district medication policy based on input from district school nurses. All medication — prescription and over the counter — given to middle and elementary-level students must be administered under the supervision of a school nurse. Provisions were made to accommodate students who need to carry emergency medications, field trip situations and self-administered medications monitored by school staff.

• The 2013-14 school calendar was approved. Earwood said the new calendar decreased early release days. There will be six early release days district wide, down from nine last year, and five additional days at the elementary level, down from eight last year.

• A programmatic school board meeting will be held at Parkview School at 5:30 p.m. Monday, May 6. The next regular school board meeting will be at the district central office at 5:30 p.m. on May 20.

 

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