Despite the fact that it currently doesn’t have a full-time facilities director, the Washougal School District has completed several building improvement projects during the 2020-21 school year and is moving ahead with plans to launch more “big-ticket items” in the near future.
The district is currently accepting bids to appraise and replace the roofs at Cape Horn-Skye Elementary School and Washougal High School, Jesse Miller, the district’s transportation director, said during an April 13 school board meeting.
“They are composite roofs, and they have a 20-year life span,” Miller said. “They were installed in 2001, so they are at the end of their life span.”
The district’s maintenance team members have identified several other items for replacement, including the carpet at Hathaway Elementary School; the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems at every building except Jemtegaard Middle School; and the security systems at Washougal High, Cape Horn-Skye, Hathaway and Gause elementary schools and Canyon Creek Middle School, Miller said.
“The (carpet replacement) isn’t a huge project, but they’re getting worn out and they’re going to need to be replaced soon,” Miller said. “(Most of our) HVAC control systems are outdated, but the system at Jemtegaard Middle School works incredibly well, is efficient, and is what we’d like to bring all of our older systems up to.”
“Our security system in our older buildings is outdated and hard to get support for, and we’re needing a system that’s going to work better for us,” he continued. “The system at (Jemtegaard) is provided by a company called Central Station. It’s up to date, easy to get support for, and cheaper on the monthly bill. Currently, we’re working on replacing Hathaway’s security system with the (Central Station) system.”
Miller also said that the district should purchase new turf and a new scoreboard for Fishback Stadium.
“The turf is nearing the end of its life span and starting to get thin in places,” Miller said. “One (of our current scoreboards) is an antique that has a ton of relays and resistors and lights. It’s in constant need of repair.”
Washougal School District Superintendent Mary Templeton said the district likely won’t be able to complete all of the proposed projects during the 2021-22 school year.
“We can’t do everything on this list right away. We don’t have the time or capacity, and some of those are big-ticket items,” Templeton said. “These are the projects that we’ve identified that are going to get our attention over the next one to three years. We’re going to prioritize them in the order of, ‘What needs the most attention?’ That’s why we’re looking to get an appraisal for the roofs right now. We have been saving for some of the bigger projects, but we don’t have all of the money (for all of them), so we’ll take that into account as we prioritize. I’d estimate that we’ll probably have three of those projects done (next year).”
The district has been operating without a facilities director ever since Joe Steinbrenner retired from the position at the end of the 2019-20 school year. In Steinbrenner’s stead, the district’s assistant superintendent, Aaron Hansen, selected Miller to support maintenance personnel, and Washougal High assistant principal and athletic director Gary McGarvie to supervise the grounds crew.
The efforts of Debra Kelly, the district’s custodial and warehouse supervisor, and Lisa Bennett, its COVID-19 compliance officer, have also been instrumental, Hansen said.
“It’s been a team effort. We’ve all picked up pieces of what Joe did,” Hansen said. “We didn’t have buses rolling, so Jesse said, ‘I think I can fit (maintenance work) in with the things that I’m doing.’ And, for Gary, we didn’t have athletics at that time, so he was on board, just like Jesse was. They said, ‘Whatever you need.’ We still have the same model right now, even with all of the transportation needs that we have on a daily basis and athletics going. It’s a testament to their commitment to the school district and the students.”