With school out for the summer, one might think there was very little activity going on at the buildings of the Blue Earth Area School District.
While there are no students in attendance, there still is a regular beehive of projects going on at the schools in the BEA system.
BEA's custodial staff, extra maintenance staff and construction company workers have been very busy this summer.
"Most of our summer projects are moving along well," says building and grounds supervisor Al Gieser. "We still have a few underway and are waiting yet for a couple of vendors to start or complete work."
The project list is long. Among the major items are:
Replacement of the west windows at the Blue Earth elementary building at a cost of approximately $100,000;
Installation of a new wheelchair lift in the middle school (approximately $32,000) to replace one 30 years old;
Roof replacement at the Blue Earth elementary building ($25,000);
Parking lot repairs to south and east lots at the high school (just under $25,000);
Upgrades to the energy management system at the high school ($42,000);
Replacement of the auto hoist in the high school ($5,000);
New carpet in the class rooms around the media center at the high school ($25,000);
New boiler at the Winnebago elementary building ($60,000-$65,000).
The carpet was still being installed this past week, and the staff is waiting for the boiler installation at Winnebago to begin.
But, the projects are not the only things keeping the 10 custodians busy during the summer months.
"We have several major maintenance projects that we do every summer," Gieser says. "With no students or teachers here, it is a good time to get these things done."
That includes some major cleaning work.
The crew has resealed all four of the district's gymnasium floors. They have also cleaned, waxed floors or extracted carpets in approximately 88 classrooms district wide.
They have also painted several classrooms and offices during the summer.
"Our maintenance department also has cleaned and serviced 27 air handlers, 88 unit ventilators, eight furnaces and all six boilers," Gieser says. "That includes dismantling the boilers, cleaning them and reassembling them."
"It is a major undertaking that the staff does every summer," Gieser says. "We vacuum out everything, clean the coils and replace the belts."
The custodial staff also has the responsibility of maintaining the grounds outside the buildings.
"We mow 60 acres around the school buildings," Gieser says. "That takes a while, plus trimming and spraying."
The custodial staff does get a little extra help each year.
"We have some assistance from workers from MVAC (Minnesota Valley Action Council)," Gieser explains. "They send us some workers to help us out, and we are really appreciative of that. They can work with us for two years, then they move on."
Gieser says they have had very good success with workers from that program.
"We have a lot to get done, so it is nice to have the extra help," he says.