Wa-Hi is a maintenance mess. One day you see the tiles pulling up off the floor, the next you notice a classroom door is jammed. Small things like these build up and can snowball into a school in overall disrepair. When I started the process of writing this article, I was angry. I was angry with the school district, angry with the maintenance department, and angry that one-half of the restroom stalls on campus didn’t have locks.
A couple months ago, after being continually frustrated with the girls locker room toilet scenario (no locks and no privacy), I emailed Principal Pete Peterson. He quickly responded and reassured me he would put in a maintenance order to have locks installed.
Jump forward almost five months later and no locks materialized. “As school district employees, we value student privacy. When work is to be done in any locker room or restroom, we do not want to violate the privacy of these areas.” said Charles Broughton, who works in the district Facilities and Operations Department. Five months is a long time to wait for an empty locker to change out the locks.
Wa-Hi can be hard to maintain because of the age of the building. In 2014 Wa-Hi turned 50 years old. The library building, auditorium and large gym are relatively newer, all finished in 1991. “One factor is aging buildings, and finding the correct parts for these facilities can be difficult. Another is that we average 22 new maintenance work orders per day spread around 15 locations. Some are quick fixes that are done in minutes, while others require that specific parts be ordered and that can set completion back by days, weeks or months,” Broughton said.
One week after I emailed the District Maintenance office about my article, I found, to my giddy delight, two shiny, brand new locks on the small gym girls locker room bathroom stalls.
“Small maintenance projects should be addressed. New science facilities and air conditioning throughout the school cannot be done without a bond. If students communicate their problems with the appropriate people, small projects, like bathroom locks, can be done.” said Mark Higgins, District Director of Communications and Community Relations.
There is a quite a process to getting a work order through the district. First, students need to notify a custodian. Then, that custodian has to inform the principal, who will then fill out a work order and send it to the district maintenance department. From there, the maintenance department takes control. “All maintenance requests are reviewed and assigned appropriately by Dan Johnson, the Director of Facilities & Operations, to one of our staff members,” Broughton said.
Part of the reason small things are left undone is because the people who can get the job done are never notified. That is where students like you and I can make a difference. In my experience, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
After my interviews with the maintenance department and Mark Higgins, the district communications director, I now know that Wa-Hi has hope. We have a chance to change things on campus. Small projects like locks or sticky doors are not eternal. We have the job as staff and students to communicate our problems with maintenance so repairs can be made. Many students, including myself, feel fed up with the state of our school. Let’s stop complaining about it and start sharing about it.
If we all keep letting the maintenance department know of the small projects we want done, eventually they will get done. If no one speaks out about it, nothing will be accomplished. So, as soon as you notice something annoying (like no locks on a bathroom maybe?) email your principal or the District Maintenance Department.