As most of the employees at Ohio’s eighth-largest school system take a summer break, maintenance crews at Lakota Schools are scrambling through their busiest time of the year.
There are 22 schools in Southwest Ohio’s biggest district with elementary schools averaging 30-50 classrooms and up to 128 classrooms at Lakota’s middle and high schools — all scheduled for cleaning.
“We take out everything that is removable, clean it and then clean the rooms,” said Neil Persley, one of two managers of facilities for the 16,500-student district.
“We don’t really clean during the school year – we maintain,” explained Persley. “And we maintain so well during the school year, and then we do the deep cleaning in the summer.”
It’s a big job.
Of Lakota’s $2 million annual maintenance and cleaning budget, up to 60 percent is used during summer break by the district’s 99 custodians.
The district has a total of 2.4 million square feet of building space – and that doesn’t include wall surfaces, light fixtures, windows, furniture and more.
Lakota Chief Operations Officer Chris Passarge said, “During the school year, the schools get constant wear and tear, so the summer is ideal for annual deep cleaning and important maintenance work.”
“Summer allows us to check every square inch of our buildings and address any issues. We focus on prevention and maintenance, with about 60 percent of our facilities budget spent over the summer and ensuring our facilities are ready for students when they return in the fall,” said Passarge.
Most of Lakota’s schools are closed during most of the break with the notable exceptions of the district’s two high schools – Lakota East and Lakota West – which are often busy with summer youth sports camps in their gym areas.
One of this year’s big summer renovation projects is replacing lighting in some of the schools with cheaper, more efficient LED lighting.
At Lakota East the wrestling team’s practice room had all floor and wall mats removed and the walls stripped bare for a complete overall.
Outside, the parking lot of the Liberty Township school has a new coat of asphalt.
Last summer gym bleachers at Lakota East and West were replaced.
Josh Crouch, head custodian for Lakota East, said the cleanliness and efficiency of Lakota schools is source of pride for staffers.
“I’m not going to put kids in classrooms that aren’t good enough for my own kids,” said Crouch.
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