Maintenance and Facilities teams work diligently to address storm damage

Dallas ISD’s Maintenance and Facilities teams are Core 4 to the core, and they demonstrated this recently when they sprung into action after the May thunderstorms—which left more than 800,000 without power and caused significant damage to trees and structures—to make district facilities safe.

According to Christopher Bayer, executive director of Maintenance and Facility Services, when the storms came in on May 28, each custodian assigned to every school or central site quickly gave the department a report back to indicate any interior or exterior damage and the status of the power.

Whenever a  storm or some sort of natural disaster affects the district, the department starts a tracking sheet internally, said Bayer. Things such as blown out windows, downed trees, power outages or any damage is reported and tracked. Bayer said that the priority was initially targeting the 12 sites that had summer programs in place that were beginning last Tuesday.

“Our folks were quick to respond. They’re thorough in their response and they’re extremely dedicated to respond any hour of any day,  to make sure that those learning environments were ready,” Bayer said.

His team made sure that the facilities were safe for students and team members to be there. Those who normally mow the grass, do concrete work, or do any heavy equipment work went to the sites and started working on tree removal. Maintenance and facilities team members had to remove several large downed trees safely and carefully as part of the campus cleanup efforts.

According to Bayer, approximately 90 sites experienced power outages. As Oncor was working to restore power in affected areas, Dallas ISD electricians were onsite to monitor the campuses to make sure the power came back on, and to ensure the district’s systems came back online.

Bayer said this process included securing the campuses, for example, by making sure windows that were broken were secured with boards or plexiglass until replacements were ordered. They were able to work with the time crunch and got the 12 sites ready on time to receive students the following day.

According to Bayer, the team did not rest until they knew the schools were ready. Then, they went without rest until they got the 106 summer school sites ready.

To achieve this, Maintenance and Facilities teams continued working day and evening  through the weekend to get the 106 summer school sites ready by June 3. Teams continued to clear up trees as well as monitor the sites to make sure the power and HVAC systems came back on.

According to Bayer, there wasn’t any major damage that couldn’t be fixed. Things such as a little bit of water damage from some windows that were broken, as well as damage caused by trees falling over, was repaired.

The district also partnered with the City of Dallas to set up a relief center for the neighborhood around George W. Truett Elementary School, which was one of the hardest hit areas, according to Bayer. The center offered resources over the weekend, and custodial staff worked diligently to prepare the facility for this.

“We need to see that our maintenance teams across the board feel very connected to the campuses and community,” Bayer said.  “Whenever we have a crisis or a weather event like this, our folks are passionate and ready to respond to make sure it’s ready to go that first day. I would definitely say there’s nobody better in the business than our team here in Dallas ISD.”

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