To the Editor:
I have been a Rockford resident for over 24 years and a custodian for Rockford Area Schools for the past 24 years as well.
I am currently the lead custodian at Rockford Elementary Arts Magnet School, but have experience working in all three schools in the district.
Since I live close to the schools I am the first person who gets called for alarms and other problems including heating. I was the person who was called in the night when the boiler broke down at both the Middle School and Elementary School last winter. We were lucky the weather wasn’t colder outside so the buildings didn’t freeze. If water pipes had frozen, they could have split and flooded much of the building.
In January 2011, I got a call that there was water flowing out of a door on the front side of the elementary school. When I arrived I found classrooms and hallway areas flooded. One pipe going to the outside faucet had frozen and split in the wall.
I’ve watched over the years as the cost of maintaining our buildings goes up as the funding for maintenance goes down. I’ve watched our maintenance budget decrease over the years, even when our buildings need more repairs because of their increasing age. The equipment doesn’t last forever.
There are many old leaky steam and hot water control valves that have reached or exceeded their expected useable life. Boilers, like home furnaces, wear out over time. So do the burners and controls on the boilers that run continuously during the heating season each year. Some of the boilers, burners and controls are from 1978 in the Middle School and from 1976 in the High School. This means the burners and controls have far exceeded their life expectancy.
To fund these critical maintenance needs, support from community members is essential. The students of Rockford Area Schools deserve to have buildings that will enhance the vital learning that takes place within the walls of all three schools in our district.