HAMPSTEAD – Summer repairs and maintenance work on Hampstead schools are going along smoothly and on schedule, and School District Facilities Director Michael Hall said there are no major projects underway this summer. He expressed concern, however, that his budget is not sufficient to keep up with infrastructure maintenance demands.
“Everything we are doing this summer is pretty routine,” he said.
While he is pleased that the projects he planned for the summer either have been addressed or will be, he worries that the reduced budget for facilities is threatening to put the district infrastructure back to where it was when he took over eight or nine years ago. His budget has been cut more than half the last two years, and he said this prevents him from taking care of things that need attention. He is concerned that if this continues, he will be back to playing catch-up every year, something he said is more costly in the end and takes a long time to correct.
“We should be spending a lot more money for regular maintenance,” he said. “I completely understand the economic situation and do the very best I can with what I am given, but my concern is we are losing ground every year.”
This summer’s biggest project involves an underground oil storage tank at Central School. Piping has been replaced and a new sump pump has been installed, along with a new monitoring unit in the sump for oil leaks. Hall said the work was required to comply with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services regulations.
Repairs are being made to HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems in the portable classrooms at both schools and includes propane piping upgrades to meet current codes. Knowing that one of the stated goals of the School Board is to get rid of the portables, he said, “I am trying not to spend too much money on the portables, but some things simply cannot be ignored.”
The air compressors at Hampstead Middle School have been replaced as well. “We need the air compressors for the HVAC system to function properly and it has been in place since 1995, so it served us well,” he said.
Hall said the lawn mower that he failed to get approval to purchase a replacement for two years ago and again this past year is out of commission again. He said a new mower would cost $12,600 but repair costs to the mower now in use over the last two years have reached $7,000, and more will need to be spent to keep it running. He hopes he will be able to get approval to replace the mower in 2015.
“We have replaced the locks on nine classrooms at HMS with locksets that allow the staff to lockdown the classroom doors from inside while maintaining egress without a key,” Hall said. “This is a security upgrade and we will do another wing next year.”
At Central School electrical work was done and 12 overhead projectors were installed. New carpet was put into room 126 at Central School and the band room at HMS. Hall said he has used 50 gallons of paint on internal painting in the two schools, along with complete cleaning of all classrooms, fixtures and hallways.
“We also cleaned the grease traps and septic tanks at both schools,” he said.
The gym floor at HMS will be resurfaced as well.
Outside at both schools, several sections of pavement will be replaced to eliminate broken areas and potholes. The school street signs will be replaced, and the Central School sign will get new aluminum posts.
Hall said he is pleased with what has been accomplished so far and noted that by summer’s end, the schools would be ready for the returning students.
While some of the work will be completed after school begins, it should not disrupt school in any way, he added.