Often times, being overwhelmed with joy that they’re receiving time off of school, students don’t really consider the effects that snow can have on school after the initial snow euphoria passes by. Surprisingly the snow doesn’t move itself off of the roads, sidewalks and oh so valued parking lots. Grounds, maintenance and custodial staff labor extra after a snowpocalypse, coming in as early as 4 am to ensure safety and ample access to walking space across the campus. Time, effort, and money are all laid into this preparation that most pass by nonchalantly, not knowing how it affects the whole school for weeks afterwards. Nonetheless, safety is always a main concern when snow comes to town.
“We don’t typically get this much snow,” noted Carolyn Poage, the Head Custodian at Olympia High School. “But even when we only get a little snow it can be dangerous. We’ve had staff and students who’ve slipped and fallen and broken stuff almost every time there’s snow.” In an effort to reduce risk as much as possible Mrs. Poage says that she and much of the other custodial and grounds staff come to school early in the morning to lay down deicer salt on the sidewalks and pathways around the campus. “Just because of this last snow in I was given 4 ice pallets and we’ve gone through almost all four of them by now.” The average weight of one whole pallet of bulk deicer salt is approximately 2,000 pounds per cubic yard or around one ton. Mrs. Poage added that this amount of deicer doesn’t even cover the parking lots and roundabout, “No, there is a truck that comes and covers all of that for us.”
The danger posed by snow lasts long after it’s fallen, and with amounts of snow like of that which has fallen this season, it is nice to help out those that are working to keep the area safe and clean. Mr. Robert Kickner, the OHS athletic director, has put together an event that is set to happen near the end of March in order to help out Oly’s wonderful grounds and custodial staff in the effort of getting OHS back to a clean and pristine shape. “Yeah, on March 25th Mr. Kickner is organizing a group of staff and student volunteers to help clean up some of the fallen trees, the sidewalks and get rid of all the things that got damaged by the snow. Anyone can go help” Remarked Mrs. Poage.
Surely to the complete dismay of many a student, parking lot repairs are probably going to take the longest to be put underway, specifically fixing the torn up speed bumps. Jennifer Priddy the Assistant Superintendent of the Olympia School District explained that the ability to reinstall the speed bumps in the south parking lot is currently being hindered by the chilly weather and may take a bit longer than some of the other repairs to put into action. “We would probably repair these over spring break or during the summer,” Ms. Priddy added, further explaining how the school district does its best to try and consolidate resources and staff to the most pressing issues first.
One thing that Ms. Priddy encouraged staff and students alike to remember is that there are many schools that the district oversees and tends to and oftentimes there are going to be more urgent things to take care of somewhere else. “The district, like most public entities, must constantly assess the needs for repairs based on safety issues, ensure that facility use is available for upcoming student events, protection of the asset (make sure that we do work that will retain or prolong the life cycle of the building or campus)… It is a constant juggling act,” Ms. Priddy related. An excellent example of this, during the big snow event in February, right as response maintenance crews were being sent out throughout the district it was reported that the Lincoln Elementary School’s library heating system started failing. Thus, in turn even though there was damage throughout the district, OSD evaluation decided that the Lincoln Elementary fiasco needed to take priority.