WACO School Board ponders hiring maintenance worker

By Karyn Spory, Mt. Pleasant News


WAYLAND ? As the ground work begins on the Kaufman Athletic Training and Fitness Center, the WACO School Board is begging the question, how will they maintain the facility over time?

On Monday night, during the board?s regularly scheduled meeting, members debated one line item in the consent agenda, the hiring of Chayse Roth as the maintenance and grounds keeper.

The full-time position would be paid $15/per hour and would be on-call 24/7 to take care of any issues, Superintendent Jeff Dicks said.

Dicks suggested creating the position last month in order to help maintain the athletic facility, which broke ground earlier this month and is slated to be completed by August. The athletic complex was a gift from the Mark and Mary Ann Kaufman Foundation. Mark, the founder of the physical therapy company Athletico, is an Olds native. The building of the project, which offers a training facility for the Warriors as well as a fitness center for the community, was fully funded by the Kaufman?s. Its upkeep, however, will fall to the school district.

Dicks said cleaning and general up keep of the sites would be too much work to tack on to the custodians? list of tasks. The maintenance and grounds keeper position would also be in charge of mowing and snow removal during the appropriate seasons. Last year, the district spent $20,622 on mowing and so far this winter has totaled $7,050 on snow removal. The district does currently own a mower and truck with snow blade.

Board members Amy McLaughlin, Barb Shelman and Megan Waterhouse all voiced concern over adding the new position. Shelman said she didn?t believe cleaning the athletic facility would take 40 hours a week and pointed out WACO has a sharing agreement with Washington Community School District for maintenance workers.

WACO is billed $14,000 a year for its sharing agreement with Washington. However, the district receives $19,992 in state funds for its sharing agreement, according to Dicks. Dicks added the maintenance workers come over when asked to work on large projects, like replacing water fountains in the school, but small tasks like cleaning out the gutters are left undone. Dicks said the potential maintenance/grounds keeper position could take care of projects like that. Board President Tim Graber agreed, noting just walking around the school he saw a handful of jobs that could be done by the maintenance/grounds keeper. Graber added the district was receiving an incredible gift, something no other school in the area has, and keeping that facility in good condition should be important. ?We don?t have any idea what the cost is going to be (to maintain the facility),? Graber acknowledged, ?but I don?t want to rule out using (proceeds from new) memberships to help.?

McLaughlin said she was hesitant to put so much money into a grounds keeper when the district is looking to not replace a teacher at the elementary school.

McLaughlin also wondered aloud if the athletic teams could be responsible for cleaning the facility. ?In October the track team takes it, in November the basketball team cleans it?? Business Manager Carrie Coble said the facility, specifically the workout machines, would have to be cleaned daily or they run the risk of a staff infection outbreak.

Board member Tom Gerot said he believed the maintenance/grounds keeper could be a good thing and could help improve the district?s existing facilities as well. He made a motion to approve the hiring of Roth as the district?s maintenance/grounds keeper. The motion died as no one seconded.

Dicks said the board members still had time, as the facility wouldn?t be complete until August if they wanted to discuss the issue. However, with Dicks resigning after the school year, he only had a limited amount of time to help them figure out the best way forward.

Dicks did inform the board of the process to find his replacement. The Washington School Board has decided to commence with the search on their own and have already received four applications. Dicks said the application process closes on April 6 and the Washington School Board will gather on Saturday, April 7 to go through the applications and decide on four candidates and then narrow it down to two finalists for on campus interviews. Dicks said two members of the WACO School Board are welcome to sit in on the interviews and give their opinion, but they will not have a vote in the matter.

In other business, the district set a hearing for the Fiscal Year 2019 budget for Wednesday, April 4. The board also approved the school calendar for 2018-19. School will begin on Thursday, Aug. 23.