Winter weather in Kansas can be very unpredictable. That’s why it’s nice to know that the people in charge of clearing what the weather throws at us are very predictable.
The USD 428 maintenance, custodian and grounds staffs are never more than a phone call away when the snow starts to fall and blow and the areas around the schools need cleared, said Dirk Davis, maintenance director. That phone call can come day or night, work day or weekend. The district has a plan in place for these days, which outlines responsibilities and procedures for staff, administrators, maintenance, grounds and custodians, he explained. The plan is designed to keep people safe from falls.
“I appreciate all they do in really cold weather,” said Khris Thexton, director of business. “They are out there clearing the entryways and sidewalks making sure everyone is safe.”
“Sharon (Jenkins, transportation and grounds supervisor) and I have 33 people, including us, who are involved with snow removal,” Davis said. “We have 14 two-stage snow blowers for heavy snow and 14 paddle snow blowers for lighter snow, three tractors, a pick-up truck with a 2,000-pound capacity salt spreader and a whole lot of shovels.”
Stone Sand assists with graders and front-end loaders for clearing parking lots, he noted.
“Preparing for snow and ice removal is not an easy task because it is so unpredictable,” he said. “It could be freezing rain, wet or dry snow, wind or a combination. You never know what you’ll get or how much until it’s over.
“Then we deal with the aftermath of melting and refreezing, which can go on for days,” he said. ”This winter we have used 200 50-pound bags of ice melt and four tons parking lot salt.”
An example of unpredictability of Kansas weather occurred on Dec. 21, the date of the Hollyball dance at Great Bend High School. One to three inches of snow was predicted, but that turned into more than a foot.
“I had nine people, including the high school principals, clearing sidewalks at the high school from 6:30 until 10 p.m.,” he said. Most of those staff members were not scheduled to work, but came in to help anyway.
“The maintenance, custodian and grounds staff work very hard in frigid conditions before sun up, during the night and on weekends,” Davis said. “They also are out there on snow days when school is canceled. We are at work preparing for the next school day to provide the staff and students safe access to our schools.”
“I am very proud of our staff and their ability to get the work done when it needs to be done,” he said.