Summer is a time for vacation for students and teachers, but for maintenance workers it is the busiest time of the year.
With the kids safely out of the way, schools hold many improvement and renovation projects in the two and a half months before classes resume.
One noticeable improvement at East Surry is any outdoor dining area on the backside of the lobby.
A large concrete pad was poured from the exit of the lobby over to the next set of doors about 80 feet away. On that pad are eight new tables with collapsible umbrellas in the school’s Cardinal red color.
This project was a collaboration between the Sherri Park, director of school nutrition, and Robert Draughn, director of plant operations, said principal Jared Jones. Since he just took over the job July 1, Jones said this idea had been in the works a long time before he came on board.
With 583 students enrolled right now, split up into three lunch groups, this gives extra room to spread out, he said. There will be supervision there, of course, from teachers and administrators just like in the cafeteria.
“It is sure to be a big hit when students return to class on Aug. 27,” said Jones. Some pupils had a chance to get an early look at it Aug. 8 when the Class of 2019 held its senior cookout there.
“The outdoor dining space at East Surry High School was a labor of love,” said Parks. “We wanted students to have additional dining space and this project turned out to be a beautiful addition for the school.”
An eye-catching change at Mount Airy Middle School is a shiny new floor in the gym, as well as a fresh coat of paint on walls.
Still, the biggest change in the city schools isn’t happening on the campuses. Work continues on converting the former Pike Electric building on Riverside Drive into the new central office.
A new roof has been installed over the future meeting room for the Board of Education, according to Sandy George, executive director of auxiliary services. This roof has an arched design giving a bigger feel to the room. Many inside walls are going up, splitting open spaces into individual office areas, as well as new plumbling and electrical wiring.
The two elementary schools, Tharrington Primary and Jones Intermediate, each had old oil tanks buried in the ground that were no longer in use. George said those tanks were dug up and removed this summer.
Tharrington had a tree in the middle of its parking lot that had to be removed, George said. The roots were spreading out, causing damage to the asphalt. The damage has been repaired, and the removal of the tree has opened up a bit more parking space.
Jones received new carpet in the third-grade rooms and new tile flooring in the cafeteria lobby. The cafeteria and the gym got a new paint job, too.
Mount Airy High School needed an update to its fire system, some leaks were repaired some leaks, said George, who is co-principal of the school this year before being 100 percent in the central office next year. Workers painted in several places, and removed some old carpet and installed new tile in a hallway.
The concession stand closest to the fieldhouse in Wallace Shelton Stadium was updated, including improvements to the bathrooms. A handicap-accessibility ramp has been installed for the home bleachers. Sidewalk and walkway repairs were made, and the locker rooms under the gym were updated, she said.
For Surry County Schools, the maintenance department has made playground inspections and repairs, painted schools, gotten carpets cleaned, and ensured gym floors are refinished, said Dr. Tracey Lewis, director of communications.
Other routine summer projects include:
• Replacing flooring at Cedar Ridge Elementary;
• Working with the N.C. Department of Transportation to power broom driveways in preparation for restriping the driveways at Shoals, White Plains and Westfield elementary schools, Central Middle, and East Surry and North Surry high schools.
• Annual maintenance of boiler, HVAC and plumbing systems;
* Annual bleacher inspection and service at all schools;
• Grounds maintenance.
“We are always very busy during the summer and this summer has been no exception,” said Draughn, who has overseen all these activities.
“Surry County Schools takes the utmost pride in ensuring our facilities are safe, well-maintained, and secure for all of our students and staff, not just on Aug. 27 when students report, but all throughout the school year,” said Dr. Travis Reeves, county superintentdent.
”The hard work and effort of our maintenance team and our school custodians is second to none, and I know students and parents will see the pride our employees place on everything we do from facilities to the world-class education our students receive,” stated Reeves.
Surry Central cooking students will walk into a new state-of-the-art culinary lab. This facility will give students access to the real-world tools they would use while working in a restaurant or taking a college culinary class.
Other renovations to promote the college and career-going culture of students includes the moving of dirt at North Surry in preparation for the live lab that will be housed there. Each of the three traditional high schools, North Surry, East Surry and Surry Central will have live animal labs this year.
“We are currently in the bid process for construction on three elementary schools; Dobson Elementary, Franklin Elementary and Mountain Park Elementary,” said Draughn. “We are planning to start the bid process for the East Surry High School bleacher project on Sept. 1 with construction to begin Dec. 1, after football season.”
As if that weren’t enough, Draughn’s department held an online surplus auction that ran Aug. 1-15. This auction included various excess equipment items from a van to appliances to furniture.
“The enhancements to our facilities and programs continue to prepare students for college and careers,” said Reeves. “Students in all traditional high schools will have experiential learning opportunities that are typically reserved for college-level courses. I am so pleased to see this level of opportunity become a reality for students.”
While newer than other area schools, Millennium Charter Academy still has had a large amount of summer maintenance work, according to LuAnn Browne, director of development.
“With the addition of a high school gymnasium, high school classroom wing, and two-story atrium during the previous school year, the cleaning and maintenance needs of the school have greatly increased,” Browne said.
“To respond to this increased work load, the school has contracted with an outside firm this year,” she said.
”The Budd Group is now responsible for cleaning and maintenance services. Every inch of tile flooring in the five classroom wings is scrubbed, stripped, and rewaxed, and all carpets are cleaned and shampooed. Walls are either painted or washed as needed, and small repairs are completed. Non-routine landscaping is also completed, with special attention being paid to the main playground this year to correct some drainage issues.”
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.