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Grounds

Richard Segura, Acting Manager (34 years with District, and Acting Manager 2 years)
44 technicians and support personnel

Grounds Craft shops include Heavy Equipment Operators; Landscape Maintenance which includes Tree Trimming; Weed and Exterior Pest Control; Irrigation; Grounds Safety Inspection; Water Resources; Paving; Portable Maintenance; and Playground Maintenance and Repair.

The M&O Grounds Department is charged with providing safe, healthy, aesthetic, and purposeful outdoor common areas, playgrounds, sports fields, and learning environments that support students’ achievement as well as preserve the District’s assets. The upkeep of all schools’ curb appeal also cultivates a sense of school pride certainly felt by the student population and their teachers and parents but also the neighboring communities.

Portable maintenance technicians provide exterior maintenance and access (including ADA) to approximately 1,600 portable classrooms. Landscape and Irrigation Shops maintain and irrigate the District’s 360 plus acres of athletic fields, several hundred playgrounds, and tens of thousands of trees, drought tolerant shrubs and bushes, ornamental lawns, school summer gardens, and other vegetation.

The Playground Shop is dedicated to providing safe playground equipment and play areas throughout the District’s 89 elementary schools, many having more than one playground. Inspections for safety compliance and necessary repairs, modification, or removal are performed on thousands of playground equipment on a scheduled basis. As the Shop’s technicians are skilled and licensed welders, they also provide welding services to other Grounds Department Shops.

Horticultural pest control technicians eliminate unsightly weeds and uninvited pesky insects from outdoor learning and play spaces. But they are far more than weed and bug people. They are highly trained and licensed (by the NM Department of Agriculture) professionals educated in all areas of both approved and restricted chemical use. These include applicator certification and licensing, worker protection and safety, pesticide registration, protection of water and endangered species from pesticides, and complaint investigation. The NMDA ensures compliance with both federal and state laws related to agricultural and horticultural pesticides use. The technicians stay abreast of new chemical products and their use through continuing education curricula conducted by the NMDA.

The Heavy Equipment Shop provides support to other M&O technicians, such as plumbers and electricians, in performing repairs that would otherwise obstruct the educational day. Backhoe excavating is often required to provide access to piping and electrical wiring in need of repair that is more often than not urgent. The Shop also addresses ADA access issues, erosion control, and storm water drainage throughout the District’s 2,900 plus acres. Heavy equipment operators are also responsible for maintaining the District’s endless asphalt and paved surfaces (which includes 1,000 plus acres of parking lots), grading dirt tracks for student safety, snow removal, and the collection and delivery of sand, wood chips, and fill dirt to playgrounds and other areas.

Portable maintenance technicians provide the exterior maintenance and access (including ADA) to over 1,600 portable classrooms throughout the District’s schools.

Highlights

Irrigation system at McKinley Middle School upgraded

As the antiquated irrigation system wasn’t releasing an adequate amount of water, it was modified with the assistance of the Electrical Department electricians running wires and installing an electrical pole. A new booster pump was installed that has measurably improved water pressure and coverage without increasing water use.

Responsibility of added acreage

The District’s steady growth results in added work for the Grounds’ crews.

  • Expanded campus at Montessori of the Rio Grande Charter School.
  • South Valley Academy Charter School added a new athletic field and irrigation system (previously watered by ditch) as well as ornamental shrubs and grass surrounding buildings.

Upgraded running tracks at three schools

The running tracks were upgraded from dirt to asphalt at Van Buren Middle School, James Monroe Middle School, and Marie Hughes Elementary School. Asphalt is a much superior running surface for the students but requires more upkeep as asphalt cracks and suffers pot holes. Yearly summer inspections and repair is required on all asphalt surfaces.

Running track at Eldorado High School upgraded

The running track was upgraded to remedy erosion issues. Major clean-up is no longer necessary following heavy rains.

Various restorations at Jefferson Middle School

The ancient irrigation system on the football field was replaced and the largely bald and weedy grass was remedied with new sod. The running track was also resurfaced and a new student drop-off loop, directed by FD+C, was constructed by a contractor working with M&O.

New athletic field installed at Chaparral Elementary School

As the existing field was torn down to make room for new construction on the campus, a whole new and improved athletic field was laid, also by a contractor working with M&O.

Drainage improvement at Volcano Vista High School

A drain was installed on the athletic field to divert ponding that previously impeded student sports activities. Subsurface volcanic rock proved to be a hindrance for proper drainage.

Athletic field sod repairs at select high schools

Badly worn patches on athletic fields required removing old sod and dirt and replacing with new at Rio Grande High School (a portion of the baseball field); softball and baseball fields at Cibola, Highland, West Mesa, and La Cueva High Schools; and baseball fields at Eldorado, Monzano, Albuquerque, and Atrisco Heritage Academy High Schools.

Football fields at three high schools reseeded

The ever important crown on the football fields at Atrisco Heritage Academy, Sandia, and La Cueva High Schools were reseeded and fenced off to keep foot traffic away. Crown (the center of the field) conditions have to be just right to allow for proper drainage. Rework of athletic fields throughout the District is a continuous activity and safety task.

Playground renovated at La Luz Elementary School

Renovation included a resurfacing of the asphalt and addition of new woodchips and playground equipment.

Paved surfaces repaired at select school sites

With the new crack sealer purchased a few years ago, the Department was able to conduct major asphalt repairs in-house, on time, and on budget saving tens of thousands of dollars.

  • Tennis courts at Volcano Vista and Del Norte High Schools
  • Surrounding playground at Hodgin Middle School
  • Wilson Stadium parking lot
  • Begin the repair of asphalt at portables area and playground access at Painted Sky Elementary School (to be completed in 2014-15 fiscal year)

Paving resurfaced at various sites

Complete resurfacing of the bus loop and front teacher parking lot was conducted at Alamosa Elementary School and playground areas at Pajarito and Griegos Elementary Schools.

Major running track repairs at high schools

The track at Eldorado High School was resurfaced and a complete rebuild was started at Highland High School (to be completed in 2014-15 fiscal year). The project was outsourced and managed by the M&O Grounds Department.

Paving improvements at M&O Lincoln Complex completed

Improvements included a re-asphalt from the Grounds Department to the main street and laying a concrete slab for the dumpster area.

Grey water now exclusively used for irrigation at Van Buren Middle School

Working with the Water Authority, grey water irrigation systems were installed at the athletic field; disconnecting from the domestic water system saves money and precious water. In addition, backflows are eliminated which provides more water pressure yet reduces water consumption.

Weed control improved

With the help of APS Transition Students and Saturday Community Service workers (citizens unable to pay citation fees issued by Metro Court), the Grounds Department was able to perform 33.3% more weed eradication work orders at elementary schools over the previous fiscal year. That stated, a great deal of weed control work remains as a horticulture technician was lost and has not yet been replaced. (Weeds are addressed by yardmen at high schools and middle schools.)

 Weed Control

Landscaping Shop increased PM 14.4%

In spite of a huge spike in reactive work orders, the Landscaping technicians were able to perform 14.4% more preventive maintenance over the previous year, largely the result of an improved mowing schedule. The dramatic increase in reactive work was due to equally dramatic weather storms. Gale force winds downed trees and heavy monsoon rains caused major flooding and ponding clean-ups in addition to drainage repairs. More rain also meant more weeds on school grounds and along fence lines.

Landscaping Shop

Substantial playground improvements

The Playground Shop spent over $100,000 in playground equipment parts and over $150,000 in woodchip replacements District wide. The considerable increase over the previous year’s playground budget enhanced safety of play equipment and surrounding areas and in meeting ADA compliance and remains a focus in the immediate future. Playground budgets are eternally a concern and challenge (safety versus costs).

PM programs (on-going)

Grounds:

• Grading dirt tracks
• Irrigation controllers (spring and fall)
• Landscape maintenance of baseball and softball fields (corrective action at infields)
• Playground equipment audits (cut back from twice a year, then to annually, and currently down to once every
  14 months due to personnel shortage)
• Grounds safety inspections
• Spring and summer fertilization of all athletic fields and ornamental grass (February through March and again May through July fertilization improved to be more drought-tolerant).
• Pre-emergent weed control on bare ground (not turf) to prevent weeds from germinating (Weed control is not
  used on fields for safety reasons.)
• Aerating and re-seeding athletic fields (cut back on frequency from twice a year to once except on football
  fields which are aerated and re-seeded twice a year)
• Fields inspection of sprinkler heads and bare spots (twice a week when possible spring through fall)
• Inspection of tennis courts and paved tracks (resurfacing and other maintenance as needed)
• Parking lot asphalt inspection and repairs, from minor to complete resurfacing and pothole patching
• Annual summer grub inspection and spraying of athletic fields throughout the District (June through September). Grub control program minimizes damage to athletic fields.
• Clean outside storm drains every spring prior to monsoon season
• Sweep all District parking lots every summer and clean after rain storms
• Mow athletic fields at high schools twice a week (seasonal) and at other locations once a week (now PM
  Direct scheduled)
• Irrigation system route inspections (weekly)

Playgrounds:

  • Playground safety inspection (annually).
  • Playground maintenance (annually).
  • Maintain proper condition of protective fall surfaces (woodchips).
  • Maintain condition of sand (rototill, level).
  • Tractor sweep the six foot parameter equipment pod.

Goals

Status of 2013-14 Fiscal Year Goals

  • Upgrade the running track at Highland High School with a new rubber surface and subsurface. 50% completed and in progress.
  • Resurface (asphalt) projects: playground at La Luz and Bel-Air Elementary Schools; John Adams Middle School parking lot; and Cibola High School student parking lot. Completed at La Luz. Declined at Bell-Air and John Adams. Cibola will be completed in remodel master plan in progress.
  • Monitor and reverse high water use at Volcano Vista and Atrisco Heritage Academy High Schools. Adjustments were made to the sprinkler heads in the last fiscal year; however, much more is required to correct the inexplicable volume of water use at the school. In progress and ongoing; working with auditor provided by water utility at no cost to District.
  • Continue transiting fields from independent to a more efficient computerized central control irrigation system (funding permitted). The central control system provides a considerable savings of cost, water, labor hours, and travel as the remote control eliminates the need for a technician to be on site to adjust irrigation and usage. Slated for the transition are Chelwood and Hubert Humphrey Elementary Schools. Completed.

2014-15 Goals

  • Complete the upgrade in progress of the running track at Highland High School with a new rubber surface and subsurface.
  • Repair or replace broken equipment (see more in Facing On-Going Challenges and Looking Ahead section on page 82.)
  • Transition at least two fields from independent manual irrigation system to computer controlled system.
  • Begin transitioning irrigations systems District wide. Current systems require system control keypads that are no longer being manufactured. The Irrigation Supervisor is currently researching options for updated technology with improved technical support that will replace the current MIR 5000 system.
  • Transition from domestic water to grey water irrigation system at Milne Stadium (Field II).
  • Replace retired Heavy Equipment technician/operator.
  • Increase PM work in Irrigation Shop.
  • Acquire a smart phone for the Playground Shop and Play Pod app to easily and efficiently manage and send playground equipment information directly to the computer database. Approximately 33% of the District’s playground equipment is already outfitted with Playworld Systems information that details all the specifics of each piece of equipment. Currently the time intensive tracking of this information is performed manually.

Wish list (as funding required)

  • Solve worrisome and worsening erosion issues at Hubert Humphrey Elementary School. Due to flooding, dirt is washing into drain system. As the dirt is removed, the water channel merely widens and problem persists.
  • Repair dire tennis courts at Valley and West Mesa High Schools. The Principals of both schools submit this request repeatedly but funding hasn’t been available.
  • Save distressed trees from drought impact District wide.
  • Deep aerate all fields District wide to promote growth. Requires the purchase of new equipment.
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