Summer service

Published 9:22 pm Saturday, July 30, 2011

Workers sweat through the break to repair schools

Although the students and teachers aren’t roaming the halls, the work hasn’t stopped in Suffolk’s public schools just because it’s summer.

Even as students and teachers enjoy their break, a group of men and women has been hard at work to put the schools back into shape before the next school year begins.

“Summer is a very busy time for my department,” said Terry Napier, facilities and planning director for Suffolk Public Schools.

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While students are jumping in the pool and spending time in the sand, both school employees and contractors are hustling through school buildings to complete needed repairs before teachers get back next month.

“All of those kinds of activities have to be done during that summer block window,” Napier said.

The summer projects take place in all of the city’s schools and include everything from carpet and tile replacement to heating and air conditioning repairs, which Napier said are some of the biggest tasks to complete.

Six schools are getting new tankless hot water heaters, and four are having their HVAC systems replaced, he said, explaining that tough jobs such as those are easier to complete this time of year, because there is better access to all sections of the buildings.

For example, during the summer, desks, chairs and other furniture are piled into the hallways, so the floors can be thoroughly cleaned and waxed.

In addition to the big jobs, school employees also work on routine maintenance including cleaning and some plumbing and lighting repairs during the school break.

The facilities department prepares for summer maintenance throughout the year by putting together a list of things that need to be completed and sorting through that list to figure out what projects the system can afford to complete.

Napier said the department tries to have a final to-do list by late May or early June.

Most of the summer work is completed by contractors, he said, and they need time to schedule all of the work.

The work gets started as soon as possible once the kids dash out of the classrooms around the third week of June, and the department’s goal is to have all the projects completed by the time teachers report during the middle of August.

But Napier said even with a long list of things to get done, everything has gone according to plan.

“We were lucky this summer,” he said. “It’s gone smoothly so far.”