There’s no such thing as a summer vacation for the 40-plus members of Hermiston School District’s Facilities Department.

Tonya Langley, custodial supervisor for the school district, likens it to a house party.

“You clean what you can while the guests are there,” Langley said, “But after they leave you do the deep cleaning.”

In this case, the guests are the 5,300 students the district serves and the house covers more than 754,050 square feet of schools and district facilities.

For the custodial crew, that means deep cleaning each room and hallway from the ceiling to the floor, starting with the flies in the light fixtures down to shampooing carpets or applying three coats of wax on linoleum floors.

Grounds crews are also busy. It takes five full-time employees 40 hours a week just to mow the roughly 200 acres of grass within the district. In addition, employees work on irrigation management, sprinkler repair and other construction or repair projects around the district grounds.

This summer, three new basketball hoops will be installed at West Park Elementary and a new scoreboard added at Desert View Elementary, among a long list of projects spanning the height of a white board in the Facilities Department office.

Not on the list? Sleeping in.

Facilities crew members start their workday at 6 a.m.

“It’s a different kind of busy,” said Martie McQuain, facilities supervisor, about the summertime maintenance schedule. Grounds crews also assist with this summer’s capital improvement project, the installation of five new modular classrooms around the district.

The department also oversees facility use during the summer. Employees set up fields for sport camps and clinics. They also clean up after events like summer school, Hermiston Parks and Recreation camps, Umatilla Electric Cooperative’s Hydromania, and iCanBike, just to name a few.

Mike Kay, executive director of operations for the district, said the Facilities Department also lends out district property. Facilities crew members recently delivered and took down bleachers for OSU Hermiston Agricultural Research & Extension Center’s potato field day.

As the district grows, Langley, who has worked for the Hermiston School District Facilities Department for 16 years, says the crew has gradually grown as well.

“We do stuff that goes unnoticed,” she emphasized.

That includes following increasingly strict standards for school maintenance. It also includes other projects, like changing every locker combination in the district’s two middle schools and high school, or scraping globs of chewing gum off the undersides of tables and desks.

Joey Williams, a district custodian, remembers one summer when all the gum from desks and tables was gathered from the classrooms along one hallway and collected into a sizable wad.

“It was bigger than a baseball,” he said.

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Contact Alexa Lougee at alougee@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4534.

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