Classes may be out for the summer, but Ottumwa Community School District Maintenance Director Chuck Bray is hard at work preparing school grounds for the return of students in the fall.
Bray was promoted to his current position in June of 2015 after working 19 years as a custodian for the district.
Bray is passionate about Ottumwa Schools. A graduate himself (Class of 1980), Bray enjoys preserving the history of Ottumwa’s diverse school properties.
“I love kids and I love repairing things and keeping things that are older nice,” Bray says.
Bray and his 41-person team of carpenters, custodians, plumbers, electricians and utility workers have been working since May to prepare for the upcoming 2016-2017 school year.
In addition to updating equipment, making repairs, shampooing and replacing carpet, repairing roof leaks, rebuilding structural damage, and other general maintenance tasks, the team is also preparing for the design of the district’s proposed new preschool building and the renovation of Shaeffer Stadium.
Bray says he has already prepared maintenance plans for the district that extend into the years 2021 and 2022.
The district tries to make the best of what it has, Bray says.
Likewise, the maintenance team is constantly making updates to facilities, repairing high-price items to extend use, and rotating furnishings according to wear and tear.
The team is also dedicated to accomplishing most tasks “in-house”.
Bray says that when it comes to big projects like the renovation of a former dentist office on Ottumwa’s North side to accommodate the district’s administrative needs, the team did as much of the work as it could before seeking outside assistance.
With more than a dozen properties to update, service, and monitor, maintenance workers are busy every day.
Bray notes that his team of workers is dependable and great to work with.
“I have a great staff of qualified people wanting to do work,” Bray says.
During the school year, Bray holds a strict policy for his workers: the maintenance crew cannot interfere with student learning or success.
“You don’t steal time from kids,” he says. Likewise, Bray prefers that louder tasks be completed during the evenings or during the night shift.
Students at Ottumwa Schools are in for a great year, with several improvements made around the district and a dedicated maintenance staff on-hand every day.