ADA, DEC, and OSHA Regulations every year absorb an increasing portion of every School District’s Budget. While revenue directed at stricter guidelines is absolutely necessary, the ever evolving regulations require funds that might otherwise be spent on building maintenance.
The Kenai Peninsula Borough Maintenance Department has strived to achieve the balance of achieving compliance with new regulations and conducting the maximum preventive and major maintenance programs with funds available.
With local appropriations, the Kenai Peninsula Borough has embarked on an ambitious program to improve ADA access. Front entry ramps have been constructed, parking designated, signage posted, toilet room fixtures changed, stalls modified, stair elevators installed, doors removed and widened, and drinking fountains replaced. In the 2000 construction season Seward Junior/Senior High School received a rebuilt pool entry, and HC toilet/shower facilities for the pool lockerrooms. Soldotna High School received a HC classroom. Homer Junior High School is scheduled to receive a new wheel chair lift to access the upper floor of the building. Numerous lavatories were changed at several grade school, and the Central Office Building received a HC unisex restroom.
Illuminated exit signs in our facilities number in neighborhood of 600. Annually the expiration dates are verified and the units replaced when necessary.
Fire alarm systems are tested and verified annually. Each horn and strobe is activated via the respective pull station, and auto dialers are activated. In construction season 1997, the Seward Jr High fire alarm was put to bid after the system was declared antiquated and unsafe by the Seward Fire Marshall. The lowest bid in the $400,000 price range was far above the $175,000 appropriated by the borough assembly. It was therefore determined that the project would be brought in-house to achieve the savings necessary to complete the project. Temporary employees were retained from the previous 1997 construction season, and the project was brought in well under budget by February 1998. During the course of the extensive fire alarm upgrade, obsolete electrical panel identification was brought up to date, and numerous crawlspace electrical conduit runs were repaired. In an effort to eliminate a boarder line confined space condition, access hatches were cut-in, and crawlspace lighting was installed.
Building automatic sprinkler systems receive annual testing and certification. Jockey and submersible pumps are activated. Each sprinkler head is checked for condition and replaced if necessary.
Some 600 fire extinguishers throughout the district are checked monthly. The Soldotna Maintenance facility has the provisions and certified personnel to test, fill and re-certify the extinguishers.
The borough has asbestos materials in thirty five facilities, the asbestos is maintained in good condition and is inspected for condition changes two times each year. Facilities are notified annually on material condition and activities that effect their facilities. Asbestos abatement occurs in our facilities whenever there is a change in material conditions, area usage, or to facilitate remodeling or renovation activities.
One large in house abatement project can save the Borough enough to pay for several smaller projects including build back. Using our budget moneys in house we can remove four to six times the materials v/s contracting out. We own the equipment and have State Certified Workers available locally (if contracted out workers are paid at Davis Bacon pay rates).
Our Soldotna Maintenance facility is the base for the area wide painting crew. The work schedule is dedicated mainly to building classroom interiors in the winter school months (on a 7 year schedule), and building exteriors, corridors, and lockers during the summer construction season (on an 8 year schedule).
While we have specified block or concrete exterior construction for new design criteria on future buildings, many of our older remote structures have wooden exteriors and require more frequent maintenance. Six building exteriors were completed during the summer months of 1998.
This department is also responsible for the annual in-house gym floor screening and refinishing of 17 full size gym floors, as well as various green rooms and stages. We have found that since we began our in-house program, employing off-season custodians, we have had less scheduling problems and brought the cost of the operation down to approximately half of what it was when contracted.
Typically one to two gym floors per year are contracted out for total refinishing and striping. Two gym floors at Soldotna Middle School were completed in1998.
The Painting Department is also responsible for running track and parking lot striping, including ADA, cross walks, and bus lane designations.
The Borough has strived to keep our buildings’ paint deterioration to a minimum. A well painted building gives the impression that the rest of the building is also well maintained.
Roofs: When a roof fails, not only is the structure compromised, but also the interior walls, ceilings, floor coverings, classroom furnishings and equipment are endangered. In one instance, an aging roof failed during a winter Chinook, and an entire choir wardrobe and stage curtain was lost at Soldotna High School (the roof in this area has since been completely replaced.
Typically, architecturally designed roofs have in the past provided our facilities with a built-up roof system, normally warranted by the manufacturer for 10 years. Our maintenance personnel have systematically inspected each roof, anticipated problems, and have repaired or patched aging roofs as necessary. This preventative action has, on the average, allowed most “10-year” roofs a realistic lifespan of twenty to twenty-five years. Ultimately, however, the more brittle material of past technology takes its toll, and demands that entire roofs be replaced.
Over the years, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Maintenance Department has compiled and organized an as-built database showing each facility roof system. Thus, we can reduce each facility down to manageable sections that may be either continually patched, or, at anticipated intervals, completely replaced. In this manner we have stretched our maintenance dollars to protect our structures, and, when total replacement is required, we’ve substantially reduced energy costs by replacing existing inefficient, saturated and antiquated roof insulation with the latest technologically available high density products currently on the market.
For new structures, our current design criteria calls for “EPDM” or similar rubber style roof construction. However, due to budget constraints on re-roof projects and to maintain roof structural integrity, many of our roof replacement projects have dictated the use of conventional built-up roofing systems. Our contention is that if a ten-year new product can be protected by regularly scheduled preventative maintenance and enhancement, we can count on a twenty plus year investment.
Nineteen of the district’s facilities depend on wells and waste water disposal systems on-site. For this reason, the Kenai Peninsula Borough monitors these systems closely and utilizes all preventative maintenance measures available.
Septic tanks are routinely pumped annually, by contract, to eliminate excess sludge build-up and premature leach field failure. Some ground conditions in the Borough present challenging circumstances. In the 1997 construction season, the Ninilchik School leach field system was finally replaced after thirty years. The well graded gravel subsurface material and maintenance obviously attributed to the longevity.
At the McNeil Canyon Elementary School, east of Homer, the silty subsurface material will accept virtually no water. When the initial system began to fail within a few years after the school was opened in 1982, a sand filter system was incorporated and minimum chlorination was added. After fourteen years the system is now on the extreme limits of meeting DEC regulations. An increasing number of residences are emerging downstream in the canyon between the school and Katchemak Bay. For these reasons, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Maintenance Department has established this project as a candidate for FY99 state funding in this application. To date, we have contracted the services of a reputable engineering firm to evaluate the situation, and perform a cost analysis for planning purposes.
As in other environmental issues, DEC is continually tightening regulations on potable water and well systems. To date, the Kenai Peninsula Borough has been able to meet the constricting demands on all facilities. The water at all buildings with on-site water wells is tested per DEC guidelines. Annually, electrical contacts are examined, float switches adjusted, and water condition systems serviced.
In the 1997 construction season a new conditioning system was installed at Chapman Elementary in Anchor Point, and in the 1998 construction season a new filtration system was installed at the Cooper Landing School. Additional pressure tanks were added at the Ninilchik School, and a new 2,000 gallon water storage tank was installed at the McNeil Canyon School, east of Homer. Lead/Copper issues at Sterling Elementary and K-Beach Elementary schools are coming into compliance with the DEC regulations.
The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly appropriated $125,000 in FY98 toward the future upgrade on on-site water systems. Scheduled for construction season 1999 is a water purification system at the Moose Pass School near Seward.
Our Vehicle Shop Facility maintains an area wide fleet of: 105 pick-ups, vans, and flatbeds, 30 trailers, 34 school busses, 17 medium and heavy duty vehicles, as well as a variety of small and heavy equipment. The vehicle shop facility is also responsible for maintaining our entire selection of landscape tractors, mowers, and specialized equipment to include 29 Emergency Warning Sirens throughout the Borough. Also included in the fleet maintenance facility are 71 electrical generators located throughout the district’s facilities.
Pick-up’s, vans, trucks, and busses receive preventative maintenance servicing at scheduled 3,000 and 5,000 mile intervals. Annual major inspections are performed on all vehicles. School busses receive 60 day inspections and are also inspected semi-annually by the State of Alaska, Department of Education Inspector. All vehicles and equipment are inspected for damaged or worn parts. Other components examined are axle seals, brake lines, fuel lines, frame components, springs, trailer hitches, wiring harnesses, tires, bearing, and fluid levels. Other inspection criteria are also performed according to Alaska D.O.T. and Federal Highway Inspection Standards.
The facility incorporates a maintenance software package that monitors and schedules preventative maintenance and schedules preventative maintenance work orders. In 1990 the Borough initiated a vehicle replacement fund that purges the fleet of older vehicles, which would eventually require higher maintenance. Under this program, pick-up’s and vans are replaced at 7 years or 70,000 mile intervals, and step-vans are replaced at 8 years or 80,000 mile intervals.
Each and every facility with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District depends on the insurance of an emergency power generator. Indeed, in the last year alone, numerous utility provided power outages would have rendered our structures helpless if not for the energy provided by our generators in the time of need. Forty-Eight inch snowfalls have plagued some of our remote structures across Kachemak Bay at times even when helicopter access has been denied for up to three days at a time. It is inconceivable that we would allow units to malfunction.
Monthly, the genset systems are subjected to load testing, transfer switches energized, and emergency circuits activated. Summer months allow us the flexibility to perform minor and major engine and generator repairs and upgrades. Gaskets are replaced, fuel systems examined, day tanks are checked for proper operation, and exhaust system piping and insulation verified.
Continual knowledge enhancement by our personnel provided annually by either travel to nationally sponsored manufacture’s seminars or importing representatives for on-site inspections and demonstrations.
In the 1998 construction season we replaced and upgraded the genset and transfer switch systems at Kenai Central High School and Nikolaevsk Village school. During the 2000 construction season the generator at Sterling Elementary was upgraded and the engine at Hope School was replaced. These components not only provide the insurance that our students have an uninterrupted classroom atmosphere, but the communities that these very systems are located depend on the fact that there will be a haven in the time of need. Our attitude suggests that in times of emergencies, if we lose a generator, we may not only lose a building, but could also lose a community.
Safety within the electrical systems in our buildings are of the utmost importance to the electrical department. With safety comes upgrading older systems to comply with the latest electrical codes and the ever-advancing needs for power and utilization.
As more and more computers and associated equipment are added, the electrical systems must be upgraded. Our plan is to work with the school district administrators to ensure proper planning so that sufficient and reliable power is made available. In most of our older schools, this can be quite challenging.
Lighting upgrades are another important part of our plan. The latest technology of electronic ballast and more efficient lamps will not only save on energy consumption, (up to 25%) but also allow us to inspect and remove any hazardous wiring and components. Lighting demands for ADA compliance, security and industry standards are also addressed.
Our preventative maintenance program includes inspection, testing and repair of elevators, generator transfer switches, emergency lighting and power, power distribution, area lighting and power utilization. We work closely with other trades as they all depend on safe and reliable electrical power and control.
A program to update and organize electrical drawings and distribution panel schedules has been started. The goal is to trace every electrical device and note all remodels and changes on the prints and panel schedules. Each device is then labeled as to its origin and operation. The electrical prints and panel schedules are then redrawn using computer aided drafting (CAD). Once these plans are on disc, additional changes and upgrades can be easily accomplished.
Prioritized maintenance on the boiler systems and combustion equipment to ensure building integrity and occupant safety is a major point of emphasis. All components must be rigorously tested to protect the heating/ventilating systems and any persons using these facilities. Adherence to EPA guidelines for Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) to ensure that proper building health is maintained is of prime concern. The nature of these systems dictates that they shall be maintained rigidly in order to guarantee the safety of all its occupants.
To keep up with the ever changing standards and codes we must continually keep upgrading and properly maintaining our existing systems as well as installing new ones to meet the demands of each facility. The emphasis of the School District to install new and additional computers within all facilities has put new demands on the ventilation systems that need to be addressed. In some cases this involves modifications to the existing systems but in many, the original building components are not able to meet the new demand and additional heat load. In these cases entire new heating/ventilation systems will need to be installed to maintain facility efficiency and comfort.
We also must strive to keep our heating systems running at peak efficiency to keep our utility costs to a minimum. To achieve this, continual testing must be done on all fuel burning appliances and building controls must be calibrated and tested on a regular basis.
An emphasis is being put on upgrading facility energy control systems and to integrate them with lighting controls, fire alarms, building security and building access. This will enable better control of the entire facility, and allow multiple users to access the facility systems on different levels and monitor all facility activities and components. Currently most of our facilities are controlled by antiquated systems. These systems are in serious need of upgrading in order to allow them to run at their peak efficiency and to assure the greatest savings in utility costs, as well as keeping the building as secure and comfortable as possible.
47140 East Poppy Lane
Soldotna, Alaska 99669
Phone: (907) 262-4011
638 East Pioneer Avenue
Homer, Alaska 99603
Phone: (907) 235-9820
Fax: (907) 235-8849
2001 Sweatman Drive
Seward, Alaska 99664
Phone: (907) 224-5292
Fax: (907) 224-7492