GHS classroom

Gustine Unified School District maintenance and custodial employees are tending to a variety of summer projects and deep-cleaning facilities in preparation for the start of a new school year. Above, employee Adelaide Etheridge works in a Gustine High classroom which is being renovated over the summer.

GUSTINE - The days of summer may be quiet for Gustine Unified School District students and most staff.....but are a height of activity for the district’s maintenance crews.

Across the district, crews are cleaning classrooms and tending to a variety of other projects to take full advantage of the all-too-short window of summer opportunity.

In addition to the typical summer work, two high-profile improvements are taking shape this summer with the construction of a gymnasium at Gustine Middle School and the addition of solar structures on every campus.

“The gym doesn’t really effect us, but the solar interferes a little bit just with the logistics of moving things around. They are in my areas right now,” Russell Hazan, the district’s maintenance director, recently told Mattos Newspapers.

The solar company, he added, has a “small army” of workers on the job.

Hazan said the district has hired temporary workers this summer and is bringing in outside contractors for some more involved projects.

One is the renovation of the cafeteria facility at Romero School in Santa Nella, which involves new floors, paint and kitchen counter tops.

A fall project will involve lighting upgrades and replacement of a number of HVAC units at the high school. That work will be done outside of school hours, Hazan noted.

The district’s own maintenance workers are rolling up their sleeves and tending to typical summer projects - which include the floor-to-ceiling cleaning of each classroom.

“That involves cleaning carpets or waxing floors, and dusting every nook and cranny. We will also clean lights and the vents on registers and returns,” Hazan explained. “Each classroom requires two custodians working four to six hours.”

Classrooms in the junior wing at Gustine High are getting a more thorough renovation this summer.

“I don’t know if we will be able to get through the entire wing, but we are trying to at least paint the classroom interiors,” Hazan reported.

As part of the process, he said, classrooms and other facilities are thoroughly checked to make sure they are in good repair.

“It’s the basics. For example, we like to check all the bathrooms, every single fixture, to make sure they are flushing properly and not leaking. That’s a big thing after a school year,” Hazan said. “We also look for safety issues such as doors not properly closing, check the electrical plugs in every classroom and look for any flooring issues.

“The summer to-do list grows once we start getting into rooms,” he added. “We will find broken cabinets that we weren’t told about, spots on carpet that we have to clean, or doors that aren’t working correctly.”

Crews may spruce up landscaping or over-seed the football field if time allows, Hazan remarked, but safety issues and general classroom cleaning take priority.

“Being inside a classroom is priority over the outside things,” he stated.

The district has tried a team-cleaning approach in years past, with custodians working as a group and going from one school to the next.

Now, Hazan said, he keeps each custodian at their assigned school site for the summer cleaning.

“They are familiar with their site, especially the day custodians,” he reflected. “They know what needs to be done.”