By Rachel Kytonen
The Buildings and Grounds Department of District 911 stays quite busy taking care of 933,000 square feet of buildings
Buildings and Grounds Director Mark Eisenbacher gave the Cambridge-Isanti School Board an inside look into the department during the board meeting Thursday, Aug. 18.
As Tim Nelson, night lead custodian at Cambridge-Isanti High School, graciously held props during his presentation, Eisenbacher updated the board on the buildings and grounds within the district, and compared current information to information from 1975, the year Nelson started with the district.
Eisenbacher pointed out school enrollment in 1975 was 2,600 compared to the current enrollment of 5,030. Eisenbacher also said now a lot of programming is done on computers, and there are currently 26 Health & Safety programs the district needs to follow.
“I feel our department serves as ambassadors of the district, due to the hard work of our custodians,” Eisenbacher said. “How the schools look really gives people a first impression of our schools.”
Eisenbacher explained the district has 10 buildings, and the mission of the department is to provide facilities and grounds that are high quality, clean, efficient, fiscally responsible, meets local, state and federal codes, and economizes district resources.
His department oversees 933,000 square feet of buildings, which is equivalent of 368, 2,500 square feet homes, and noted the district is in the top 10 percent for all school districts in the state. The district also encompasses 249 acres of land: 19 parking lots, 14 baseball fields, 11 gyms, 7 football fields, 6 playgrounds, 4 soccer fields, 1 track and field and 1 pool.
Eisenbacher also reported on the heavy usage in the schools. Around 5,030 students use the schools, and 800 employees. In 2010, out of 365 days, there were only 6 days the schools were not used by the public.
The Buildings and Grounds Department has 17 full-time and 16 part-time custodians who do primarily cleaning. Nightly cleaning also happens during school and systematic deep cleaning takes place during non-school times.
“I often say our staffing is lean and mean, and does a very good job cleaning our facilities,” Eisenbacher noted.
The department is also responsible for maintaining over 800 pieces of equipment including: 32 air handling units, 57 rooftop units, 38 unit heaters, 13 condensing units, 17 boiler plants, 3 chillers, 5 generators and miles of plumbing, piping and electrical circuits.
Eisenbacher also noted the maintenance specialist position was created six years ago, when the square footage of the district increased by 30 percent. Wayne Yust is currently the district’s maintenance specialist, and Eisenbacher noted the training and experience with HVAC and building automation systems has made it possible to troubleshoot, maintain and repair equipment inhouse, which saves the district money.
Eisenbacher noted in August 2010, the district was awarded several Energy Star Awards through the Environmental Protection Agency, including an award for 30 percent improvement in energy usage. The district was the first in the state, and ninth in the country to be awarded with the 30 percent improvement award.
“I’m happy to report that we just found out that we have now achieved a 36 percent energy cost savings, and have exceeded $2 million in utility savings,” Eisenbacher said. “Clearly, the program is paying for itself and providing a benefit to the school district.”
Eisenbacher also gave credit to Nancy Johnson, District 911 Energy Efficiency Coordinator, for her hard work on energy efficiency.
School Media, Inc.
The board held a discussion regarding School Media Inc., a company that sells advertising to be displayed in the schools.
Community Education Director Dave Maurer explained the district started exploring its options with School Media last October. He noted St. Francis has been using School Media, and said so far the district has been very happy with the success of the program.
Maurer explained once the district signs a contract with School Media, School Media then begins to sell advertising to be placed on lockers, floors, windows, benches and tables, stairs, auditoriums, walls, stadiums and field houses, bleachers and fences within school district buildings.
In the handout provided by Maurer, advertisements are displayed for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Got Milk?, CocaCola, University of Minnesota, Cub Foods, Schmitt Music, Underwater Adventures, Health Partners, and more.
School Media would offer the program at no cost to the district, and the district would receive a quarterly payment from School Media. The district then would decide how to best use the funds. School Media feels it’s a chance to update old and faded lockers and other areas with colorful, revenue producing advertisements.
Maurer explained in May a representative from School Media visited the district and explained how the program works with the district’s finance committee. Maurer handed out a chart that showed if School Media would sell advertising on 10 percent of the available space, it would bring $73,800 into the school district.
He also explained School Media is responsible for the maintenance on the advertisements.
Superintendent Bruce Novak said the school board has the final approval on which advertisements would go into the school buildings.
Board Member Lynn Wedlund said she would like to make sure the principals are also involved in the process, and have a voice on which advertisements would go into their buildings.
“The company does have a good reputation for putting good ads into the schools,” Wedlund said.
Board Member Mark Becker said the program sounds like a good idea.
Wedlund said she would like to take same time to think more about the program, and also wants to hear feedback from the community, as well as the principals.
After discussion, the board decided to not take any action, and is expected to bring the item back for discussion and/or action at the September board meeting.