The next time you are at Buck Park watching (or playing) a game on one of the sports fields, running or walking the vitality/nature trail, enjoying the skateboard park, the playground, basketball or tennis courts, you can thank the maintenance department of the Orcas Island School District for keeping them safe and clean.
From mid-March through mid-July, grass growth management becomes a very large job requiring an average of 46 hours per week (more this time of year) just for trimming and mowing the school grounds, cemetery, Buck Park and more. Other tasks, such as fertilization, aeration, playground maintenance, weed control; parking lot maintenance, vegetative trimming, pressure washing, infield grooming, irrigation maintenance, litter pick-up, garbage removal, porta-potty service, and all exterior structure maintenance are also part of the responsibilities of the district.
The man in charge of these tasks is Maintenance Facilities Director, David Mierau. Mireau has been in this role with the district since 2005. No matter what the school enrollment, it is his job to oversee the maintenance/custodial staff in keeping things, as he says, “safe, secure, functioning, and esthetically pleasing.” Right now, he is the one doing the groundskeeping work which slows down his other tasks.
During the school year the department is responsible for cleaning bathrooms, washing windows, keeping common areas clean, breaking down and setting up cafeteria tables, floor and rug cleaning, dealing with plumbing problems, maintaining the heating/ventilation system, repairing tractors and mowers and other equipment, garbage removal (there are 60 cans campus wide), cleaning classrooms, fixing locks and doors, auto scrubbing of gym and cafeteria floors, and setting up for school events. It is also the custodial staff that keeps things sanitized to help prevent the spread of communicable diseases.
There are currently three other staff members: Jason Nichols is the daytime custodian and he is on campus during the school day with specific duties as well as being available to take care of any of the unpleasant custodial emergencies that might arise. Buzz Casson and Bob Beckner are the after-hours custodians preparing for the upcoming school day.
The custodial staff works a 40-hour week during the entire school year. In the summer they do their deep cleaning of the buildings. This includes refinishing floors, cleaning rugs, thorough system checks and taking care of any problems that they were unable to deal with during the busy school year.
Facilities Director Mireau says he has learned a tremendous amount about the workings of the school over the past few years. For example, each school building has a different heating/ventilation system because they were built at different times, so he has learned them all. He is passionate about trying to fix as many things as he can himself (his immediate task was to repair a tractor tire at 6 p.m so he could continue mowing the next day) and feels strongly that the “school facilities are not just for the school but are there for the whole community”.