Thursday, March 06, 2008

Better Late than Never?

On May’s ticket is 6 million dollars for what I would characterize as safety and health and emergency preparedness related upgrades. There are a few little known facts about the projects that I believe taxpayers should know. They are:

Districtwide Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Electronic access, improve door lockdown capability and intrusion alarm system upgrades.
The need for new door locks was identified as early as 2001. As for the alarm systems, I submitted a system-needs report to my supervisor just as I departed in January 2005. That’s a 8-9 year wait on the locks and probable 4-5 year wait on the alarm systems from the time of the discovery of need. (Given the delay from receiving the money, going to bid, and putting it on the summer schedule).

Districtwide Energy Efficiency
Computerized monitoring and Control.
The HVAC control systems are already computerized. I know this as I performed indoor air assessments as part of my job. The need for an upgrade probably lies in the fact that the former boiler mechanic (since retired) did not like all the new technology on the systems and ripped out tens of thousands of dollars in computerized controls on each system; leaving the electronics technician to reprogram and rewire the controls making them only accessible through the maintenance department. This is the 1.25 million dollar legacy of poor management of the former maintenance director (since retired); he reported to Marla Miller.

Systems Upgrades and Asset Protection
Roofing upgrades.
Hallelujah! There were so many leaks in so many schools, that the roofer could not keep up. In addition for structural damage and possible impacts on indoor air, there were issues with leaks into mechanical rooms that could damage the equipment.

Classroom carpet replacement.
This was discussed as a solution to many indoor air quality complaints as early as 2001 and a list made in 2004. Another significant wait of 6-7 years.

Regulatory requirements.
I had a lengthy list in 2000 after my first audit of the schools. I was told to be realistic as to what could be done. Larger structural changes I was told would be incorporated as schools were replaced. So flammable storage cabinets were purchased, TVs were strapped down, and prohibited chemicals in science labs were disposed. The safety showers, ventilation hoods, and eyewashes I identified were still not installed when I left in 2005 but have since been. I have an idea what is left to do and am relieved after years of waiting, the District is finally addressing these issues.

In the Tech Levy’s flyer, School Board member Gary Noble is quoted, "We continue to manage our assets wisely." I guess wise in this instance means the purchase of land for the new administration support center was a higher priority than long identified safety, health and emergency response issues; so much so that overspending by 2.5 million on a sub standard piece of property was warranted. Somehow I am unable to follow this logic; but then again, I might be biased.

Claire Olsovsky, MA MS
Former Loss Control Safety Specialist, 2000-2005

9 comments: said...

Health and safety issues were only included in the levy to appeal to voters who have no comprehension of, or concern for spending piles of money on techno(il)logical upgrades.

Johnny may not need a new laptop, but surely he needs to be dry, warm and walk on new carpet.

Anonymous said...

Pardon my ignorance, but why do we need new door locks? Thieves do not unlock or pry open doors, they break out windows, then grab and run.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this well written article; I worked in the District at the dates mentioned. I cannot see a need for carpet; flooring is easier to clean; carpets are hard to clean and the building Custodians can't clean them; a carpet crew comes in once a year to clean the filthy, germ-laden carpets. Flooring can be damp mopped daily or every other day and makes more sense.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, the need for different locks is a reflection of the times; different locks will expedite lock-down time and protect students during criminal activity and violence during the school day.

As for carpeting, I agree, carpeting is the worst thing to happen to schools. Especially since they now feed some K-5 students lunch in the classroom. An area rug in elementary school classrooms for students to sit on during certain activities (e.g. story time) makes more sense. I see no need for middle and high schools to have carpet at all.

Anonymous said...

New locks only work if people actually lock them. How come the ESC was left unlocked the other night? Did the new overnight security guard alert anyone?

Anonymous said...

In regards to locks: a certain middle school (in the Edmonds School District) was broken into last weekend by a student. Did he break a window to get in? No, he "found" a key to the school in a teacher's desk and walked right in at night. Hopefully these new locks won't have keys that can be forgotten in desk drawers.

Anonymous said...

The embarrassingly under-qualified, befuddled, addle-brained and grossly overpaid property management specialist was asked to inventory the keys @ the ESC but her inability to successfully organize such a request was so great that she succumbed to too much self-inflicted stress and had to absent herself for most of the week. Strangely, the front doors of the ESC were found unlocked during this same period.

It must be by design, but each employee that Marla Miller used her influence to hire has failed miserably in their positions, and we could make a lengthy list of the reasons why. Is she unable to recognize this, or is it more likely that she refuses to acknowledge her inability to judge character or understand the real meaning of success which contributes to her personnel blunders?

Anonymous said...

If a thief does not have a key, they go through the roof which happened at the school where I worked for years; they took computers, Fax machine, digital camera, and more. If a thief wants in, nothing will stop them. The thief in this case, is in prison, however, as he used the money he received from selling the goods to commit another crime.

Anonymous said...

The four digit code for the alarm system at the building I worked in for 5 years was never changed in spite of the annual "we'll change the security code soon" pronouncement from the principal. It was my understanding that the same code had been in place for several years before I began there; probably 8 or 9 years total. Don't know if it was ever changed after I left.

Seems to me that it would be an annual standard operating procedure to change the code.

Also, went into the building on a Sunday once and found one of the exterior doors unlocked. Seems that the people running a WASL prep class on Saturday had forgotten to lock it when they left.