They work from before the school bell rings in the morning to long past when the students should be in bed—11:00 p.m. to be exact. There’s always someone on call for emergencies during the few hours they are not helping students and staff. When schools close for breaks, they still report for duty. In fact, their workload increases. They’re responsible for the upkeep of 3,137 acres and 17 million square feet of condition space in the Cobb County School District.
Members of the Cobb Schools Maintenance and Operations Department are the unsung heroes who repair leaks, mow, edge, and hedge. They’re the ones who install lights, replace air filters, conduct monthly preventive maintenance of fire alarm systems and roofs, replace air filters, and respond to requests from staff around the District that a room is either too hot or too cold. They’re responsible for keeping Cobb Schools going each and every day.
The Maintenance Department receives more than 52,000 work order requests from 112 schools and other facilities in Cobb. Of the thousands of work orders, they try to keep open requests to about three percent.
“We try to accommodate everyone, especially when the situation involves a special occasion or there is a major time constraint,” said Mike Ledford, Assistant Director of Maintenance and Operations. “We have been involved with the disassembly and moving of visitor football bleachers from one high school to another during playoffs and installing world flags at the very last moment in an assembly area at a middle school. We have installed a temporary ADA ramp to accommodate a student who had been recently wheelchair-bound due to a broken leg and helped supervise the installation of security systems in all of our elementary schools.”
In the times of a disaster, such as a major flood, their main priority is to get the schools back up and running for the next school day.
“It is our goal to respond in a timely manner and to repair the issue to the best of our ability so that the issue does not interfere with the learning environment for our student population,” added Ledford.
A variety of skillsets make up the Maintenance Department. There are building engineers, carpenters, electricians, flooring techs, HVAC techs, locksmiths, indoor and outdoor environment quality techs, plumbers, roofers, and more.
They may not work with students inside a classroom, but their work is still instrumental in helping students succeed. Without the work of the Maintenance Department, the students wouldn’t be able to walk into a warm classroom on chilly mornings. They wouldn’t be able to enjoy outdoor recess because the grass would be too tall. School lunches may not be warm if it weren’t for the Maintenance team’s work to keep the school ovens operating properly. From inside a classroom to the lights in the parking lot, the Maintenance Department ensures that students are able to learn in a safe, warm, education-stimulating environment.
“Our people are what makes our department stand out,” Ledford said.
Ed-SPLOST covers the renovations and construction of new facilities, like East Cobb Middle School, Brumby Elementary School, and the new Campbell High School gym, as approved by Cobb taxpayers. However, after the completion of the Ed-SPLOST projects and the expiration of limited warranties, Cobb Schools Maintenance personnel take over responsibility for maintaining the products and systems associated with the Ed-SPLOST projects. So, the Maintenance Department’s area of support continues to grow.
In addition to the Maintenance Department personnel, there are also 486 custodians who support Cobb students and staff. Custodians clean all Cobb facilities. They strip and wax all of the floors at each school during the summer. They also help maintenance personnel with other basic requests like replacing light bulbs, assembling simple furniture, and basic plumbing repairs. Teachers, staff, and students know their custodians. They see them every day.
Unlike their school custodians, students may not know the names of the Maintenance Department personnel who often pop in and out of their schools, but it is the Maintenance team who keeps the lights on. They work from before sunrise until well after sunset to keep Cobb Schools operational.
Take a moment and say thank you.