TEWKSBURY — While students may be relieved to be out of the classroom during the summer, the Tewksbury School Department stays busy winding down the buildings and ramping back up for the next academic year.
Superintendent Chris Malone and Business Manager Dave Libby work on a constantly rolling list of items that need attention for the schools’ infrastructure.
“We’ve moved from a five-year maintenance plan to a rolling edit. We consistently reprioritize,” said Malone.
Malone and Libby said that “90 percent of the work is unseen,” pointing to water heaters, boilers, lighting, and improvements to support the technology infrastructure. Malone said network cabling, servers, switches, and fiber cable is critical to support over 5,000 devices which serve students and staff in the district, noting that the buildings were designed at a time when wireless technology was never conceived of.
“We want to remove barriers for teachers so that they can use this technology,” said Malone, pointing out that new staff with technical expertise has also been hired.
Libby said that every school room is emptied during the summer and the floors are stripped and waxed. Gymnasiums are inspected, basketball equipment, ropes and climbing equipment, bleachers, scoreboards and such are all inspected.
“We also have ongoing hood inspections, fire alarms, roof inspections, scheduled AED inspections and so forth,” said Libby. “We also have fresh mulch added to the playgrounds,” he added, a requirement for safety.
Boilers are an ongoing headache but are addressed. “These are active buildings and even though we have a new school on the horizon, we must have heat for our students and staff” said Malone.
New parking spaces have been added at the Dewing, an effort to improve traffic flow and accommodate more cars. The Ryan School curbing has fresh paint. The Heath Brook elementary school has had some landscape upgrades, painting, and walkway work. Tewksbury Memorial High School has had some crumbling catch basins repaired and pavement work.
“We are also upgrading the vestibules in our buildings for security,” said Malone, work which includes cameras and ID machines.
Retrofitting buildings for this aspect of upgrade requires design work and the use of outside contractors. Malone is working with Town Manager Richard Montuori to secure resources which can be tapped on a town-wide basis for design work across a variety of projects, streamlining the process and saving money.
Malone said the Trahan vestibule is under construction and the Wynn design is underway. Libby said that work goes on all year and saving projects for the summer is something they’ve gotten away from, addressing issues as they happen but trying for as minimal disruption as possible.
Malone praised Libby and said that all work is conducted with the budget and district educational objectives intertwined, an awareness that yields big impacts for students and staff while staying within the confines of fiscal constraints.