New maintenance policy leads to some distress

The CVUSD school board passed a new policy reorganizing the maintenance department at the meeting in June. The policy dissolved the on-campus maintenance staff positions at high schools district-wide. Instead, the district now has three teams of maintenance workers– one covering Newbury Park, another Thousand Oaks and the third, Westlake. “(This system) works on the middle school and elementary schools already, so the proposal is (doing) a lot of the same things they’re doing there to maximize the resources we can have,” Steve Lepire, principal, said last May, before the policy was passed.

The first maintenance rotation began on Sept. 4. “We’ve just started, and so far, so good,” Lepire said.

“During the school day, we have two custodians and our plant manager plus a maintenance person (assigned to the school),” Lepire said.

For less urgent issues, staff members must submit a work request form via the district website. “We insure and execute preventative and general maintenance, repairs, and alterations to effectively sustain safe operations of over 2 million square feet of buildings, on over 500 acres of property throughout the Conejo Valley,” the website reads.

The work requests are then processed by Lepire and other administrators.  Lepire is able to personally sift through the requests and prioritize which ones need immediate reaction. “I know a lot of the people that are part of the group that’s working Newbury Park High School. So if there’s specific things that I’d like them to address, I just talked to them about it, and they take care of it,” he said.

Kristian Atkins, woodshop teacher, has had some issues with the new system. “The website itself seems okay, you’re done in a timely manner,” he said. But out of the seven requests he has made, only one has been addressed in any way.

A recent leak in the woodshop classroom prompted Atkins to take his issues directly to Lepire, who took immediate action. “Somebody came out (the same) afternoon and turned the water off, and they’re trying to fix it,” Lepire said.

“I think (the policy) is a way for the district to save money, but I feel like it takes the personal touch out of our little school community,” Tiffani Coull, history teacher, said. Coull feels this depersonalization is especially obvious in the lack of awareness for the school schedule. “They’ll clean the grounds and rake leaves while we’re in class,” she said.

For both Coull and Atkins, the new system has not been very user friendly. “I would like it if the work could get done in a timely manner,” Atkins finished.