Open house shows off Oak Harbor School District facilities
By REBECCA OLSON
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
February 26, 2012 · Updated 5:48 AM
Not only do the new maintenance, information services and warehouse departments of the Oak Harbor School District provide much more space for more efficient work, but the remodeling didn’t cost taxpayers an extra cent.
Tour the new facilities, located behind Oak Harbor High School, Wednesday, Feb. 29 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
For years, maintenance and information services have been housed on Midway Boulevard in the bottom floor of the original Oak Harbor High School, which was built in 1911.
Maintenance serves approximately 240,000 square feet of buildings in the district.
Carpentry, plumbing, electrical, painting, heating, air circulation, information services and more were stuffed into the small building on Midway and efficiency was challenging with the lack of space for equipment and supplies.
Now, each area has a separate workshop. Each individual workshop is half the size of the total space all the staff used to work in, said Bruce Worley, executive director for maintenance and operations.
“Actually, they think they’re in heaven now,” Worley said. “It’s been a big positive for the maintenance department.”
For the first time in the 20 years the district has had a locksmith, he gets his own workspace. Worley described his old workspace as a “closet.”
“Now, he’s got enough room to spread out. He’s increased his efficiency by 50 percent or more,” Worley said.
All of the staff members have enough room to lay out their supplies on shelves so they are easily visible and organized, rather than searching in a box or getting in the way of other staff while searching for supplies.
“It takes a lot less time. Productivity has increased because they’re not spending so much time on top of each other trying to sort it out,” said Bre Urness-Straight, who works with teachers and technology.
Every workshop has its own garage doors so trucks can be unloaded or larger equipment can be pulled inside for maintenance. Every workshop has its own phone and computer.
All of the furnishings and machinery are recycled. They were taken out of the old high school, the old maintenance facility or surplus, Worley said.
“That way, we were able to afford to do what we did,” Worley said.
Information services, which is located in the same building as maintenance, is responsible for nearly 1,800 computers and approximately 3,500 network devices in the district.
“One of the cool things about this is we have places to put stuff,” said Bruce Roberts, director for information services. The ability to put computer parts where technicians can see them increases efficiency.
“We’re doing this all for the classrooms so the faster we can get stuff out, the better,” Roberts said.
The new facility has much more room for technicians. The 10 work stations allow them to work on more than one computer at once, a big step up from the folding tables that used to serve as desks.
Unlike the old building, the storage area for computer parts and equipment is connected to the building. Staff used to have to carry computers and equipment across the parking lot but now, trucks can pull into the storage area and deliver items directly into the building, Roberts said.
Another addition is the separate server room that also houses the district’s cable TV lines.
The new facility has a room where staff can record educational videos about using computers and fixing problems, which will be available on their website, Roberts said.
The new facility is a “quantum leap” from the old building, Roberts said.
Another octagonal building next door is the new warehouse, which is vastly larger than the old one, Worley said.
All school district materials and mail are delivered to the warehouse before distribution to the schools.
“Now, we’ve got a place we can lay down food and actually walk around it to see what we got,” Worley said, adding that they can get around both sides of the shelves with a forklift now.
There are garage doors for truck deliveries, making everything more efficient.
“This is just unbelievable,” Worley said.
There’s enough parking for staff, and vehicles are secure because the area is fenced off from the high school. A garage offers storage for man lifts and other machinery.
The grounds department cares for approximately 180 acres of grass, gardens, ballfields, sidewalks and parking lots, said school district communications director Joe Hunt. Now, the department has a shop in the warehouse that, by itself, is half the size of the space everyone used to work in. The shop is dry, warm and equipment can be pulled in through garage doors so staff can work on it.
The octagonal buildings, located behind the high school, were originally used as classrooms, but since they were oddly shaped, they rarely worked for teachers, Hunt said.
When the new Career-Tech building was finished three years ago, the octagonal buildings were used as pivot classrooms while remodeling the high school, but after that, they had no use.
The cost of tearing down the buildings would have been huge.
“That would have just been lost cash,” Worley said.
After passing the $54-million bond to renovate the high school in 2006, Superintendent Rick Schulte chose to invest the cash until it was needed, which he had done with past bonds, too. The interest that money earned entirely funded this $5.4 million facilities remodeling project.
“Now they’re converted into something highly efficient that’ll help maintain the rest of the buildings,” Hunt said.
Remaining funding was used to build new dugouts, a warm-up area and more for the seniors baseball field and to build a soccer field and a softball field, located behind the new facilities. Currently, girls softball plays behind Hillcrest Elementary School. The new field will be put into use next year.
“It’s going to be one of the premier softball fields in the state. Next spring, this is going to be the bees’ knees for girls softball,” Worley said.
For information, call 279-5000.
Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Rebecca Olson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-675-6611 ext. 5052.