The Grand Jury reviewed Amador Unified School Districts (ACUSD) school
maintenance program. During its review, the Grand Jury visited all elementary schools. All
schools exhibited some significant degree of deterioration. Deterioration at some schools
posed health or safety hazards for the faculty and students. This deterioration extended
to equipment used in classrooms.
The School District does not have a comprehensive plan to address these problems. Its
Maintenance Department is poorly structured, equipped, and funded. Because of insufficient
funding, district maintenance personnel move from one crisis to another. Planned
preventative maintenance is secondary.
The Grand Jury concluded that the district needs to make significant changes in how it
operates its school maintenance program. No funds are budgeted for training and
development of the maintenance staff.
- Several schools contain unused boiler room equipment. Restrooms at most schools are in
poor condition. Storms caused leaks in roofs and stained ceiling tiles at many schools.
Pioneer Elementary School experienced flooding of its school grounds.
- Some Jackson Elementary classrooms experience power failures when teachers in rooms next
to one another plug in a computer or other equipment at the same time. Some rooms use
converted light fixtures as sockets for extension cords.
- There is no maintenance program for classroom computer equipment.
- A handicapped ramp providing access to a portable special education building at Jackson
Elementary has a loose railing, the slope is too steep, and the initial access is too
- Most schools are used for extra community activities. Jackson Elementary, due to its
central location, is used most often.
- Response time to repair requests varies between schools.
- Most schools experience traffic congestion during high use periods. Parking space is
limited at most school sites.
- One administrator oversees all school support services. These services are located in
three different cities.
- maintenance is in Ione
- transportation is in Jackson and Sutter Creek
- food service is in Sutter Creek and Ione
- There are ninety-two temporary buildings in the District. Some are over thirty years in
- The District does not have a preventative maintenance program. There is no comprehensive
plan to address chronic maintenance problems. Volunteers and parent groups are doing work
normally funded and performed by the District.
- The Maintenance Department has six full-time employees to service fourteen sites.
- Maintenance workers have difficulty contacting each other when in the field.
- When major systems, such as heating, malfunction, maintenance personnel cannot provide
temporary service during repairs.
- Maintenance Departments vehicles average 27.7 years in age. The District does not
have a vehicle replacement plan. The 1996/97 Grand Jury identified this as a problem.
- District funds are not budgeted for staff development and training of maintenance
- There are seven substitute custodians available to fill in for the Districts
regular staff of thirty-three custodians.
- Job descriptions prevent Maintenance Level II workers from performing many repairs
without direct supervision from higher-level maintenance workers.
- Each elementary school administrator hires custodians (Maintenance Level I) for their
- Work-order records were not organized.
- Recent legislation mandates a 20 to 1 student teacher ratio in grades K-3.
- The physical separation of support functions and facilities makes it difficult for a
single administrator to manage effectively.
- Obsolete non-functioning boilers occupy space needed for other uses.
- Some classroom computers are unusable for instructional purposes because schools lack a
computer maintenance program.
- The handicap ramp to a portable building at Jackson Elementary is not safe.
- Additional meetings, classes, and activities held at Jackson Elementary place an added
strain on the custodial staff.
- Work order repair time and maintenance attention is inconsistent between schools.
- Congested traffic patterns and limited parking space create dangerous situations at most
- Poor maintenance of restrooms, inadequate wiring, underrated electrical services, and
other visible deterioration result from a lack of a preventative maintenance plan, poor
managerial organization structure, and inadequate budget allocations.
- The Maintenance Department does not have equipment to meet general needs and
- Lack of communication equipment hinders the Maintenance Departments effectiveness.
- The number of maintenance staff available is not adequate to serve the Districts
- There is a shortage of maintenance workers and substitute custodians.
- Maintenance job descriptions are outdated, and impose unnecessary restrictions on
- The practice of having individual school administrators hire custodians (Maintenance
Level I) does not provide workers with equal levels of competency.
- Maintenance workers lack knowledge of current laws and repair methods because the
District does not allocate specific funds for staff development and training of
- Lack of access to, and organization of, past work orders does not provide for historical
data on recurring problems for individual school sites. This information would be
beneficial in maintenance planning.
- Centrally locate support functions for increased efficiency or divide them between more
than one administrator.
- Remove obsolete boiler room equipment from school sites.
- Explore the possibility of providing computer maintenance to school sites by:
- hiring a person designated to maintain computers; or
- contracting maintenance from a private company; or
- contracting with a government agency (such as Mule Creek Prison) to provide repairs
- Repair the handicap ramp to the portable building at Jackson Elementary to make it safe
for use by disabled persons.
- Provide extra custodial staff to school sites when special events are held.
- Acquire an Internet account for all schools and maintenance to be connected via modem
for quick work order submittal and response time. Provide equal maintenance attention to
all school sites.
- Implement a plan to provide adequate parking space and traffic control for schools.
- Provide materials and tools for on-site personnel to use in making repairs.
- Upgrade electrical service at Jackson Elementary.
- Develop a facility maintenance plan that includes funding, preventive maintenance,
maintenance prioritization, staffing, and organization of support services.
- Establish a vehicle replacement plan with the following key elements:
- establish a life expectancy for similar types of vehicles
- divide the cost of the vehicle by the life expectancy of it to determine the annual
- deposit this annual replacement increment in a vehicle purchase fund
- replace vehicles at the end of their life span
- Obtain portable equipment such as heating and air conditioning units to provide service
while repairs are made.
- Provide reliable portable communications equipment for maintenance workers.
- Increase the maintenance staff so that they can better perform tasks needed by
- Use high school Regional Occupational Program (R.O.P.) students to assist with
maintenance projects on school campuses.
- Increase the pool of substitute custodians available.
- Revise job descriptions for maintenance workers.
- Standardize hiring practices for custodians (Maintenance Level I).
- Provide additional funds to the maintenance department budget specifically earmarked for
specialized and continuing education training for all maintenance workers, including the
on-site custodial staff at individual schools.
- Purchase software for a tracking system to manage maintenance requests and priorities.
The Grand Jury requests that the Superintendent respond within 60 days and the School
Board respond within 90 days from the official filing date of this report as required by
Penal Code 933(c).
Authority to Investigate
Penal Code Section 933.5 authorizes the Grand Jury to review the operation of school
districts. As required by Penal Code Section 916, at least twelve Grand Jurors voted to
review the facilities maintenance procedures of the ACUSD.
Method of Review
Members of the Grand Jury interviewed:
- ACUSD School Board Members
- Interim Superintendent of Schools
- ACUSD Facilities Administrator
- Maintenance Level III Worker
- elementary school principals
- elementary school administrative staffs
- bus drivers
- The Grand Jury also visited all eight elementary school sites.
The Grand Jury visited all elementary schools within ACUSD. All showed signs of
disrepair and poor maintenance. While the Grand Jury investigation focused on elementary
schools, it found similar maintenance problems existed throughout the school system.
Some examples are:
- water damage to roofs and ceilings following storms
- peeling paint and leaking fixtures in bathrooms
- power failures due to circuit overloading
- light fixtures converted for use as electrical outlets
- poorly maintained and dangerous handicap access ramp
- flooding of school grounds
- valuable space occupied by obsolete, unused boiler and other equipment
- stained and missing ceiling tiles
There are ninety-two temporary school buildings in the District. Some are over 30 years
old. To determine how the school district funds and organizes maintenance of facilities,
the Grand Jury interviewed school administrators, parents, teachers, and support
personnel. This review included examining maintenance work orders from three schools.
The School District organizes its support services under one administrator. This person
is responsible for sub-functions of transportation, facility maintenance, and food
service. These services are located in three different cities. Maintenance is in Ione;
transportation is in both Jackson and Sutter Creek; and food service is in Sutter Creek
and Ione. Maintenance workers travel between the Ione maintenance shop and work
School officials and teachers request maintenance work using a standard district work
order. The Grand Jury obtained a random sample of past work orders from three elementary
schools Sutter Creek, Jackson, and Pine Grove. After analyzing these records, the
Grand Jury found a wide variation between schools in the time it takes to accomplish
requested repairs. Some school officials felt this difference resulted from attitudes held
over from before the district unified. Distance from the Ione maintenance facility did not
appear to be a factor. Pine Grove Elementary School received requested repairs three times
as quickly as Ione Elementary School.
A staff of six maintenance workers forms the core of the Districts maintenance
staff. Operating out of the Ione maintenance facility, these workers must travel to
schools needing repair work. The average age of the vehicles assigned to maintenance
personnel is 27.7 years. Communications between maintenance personnel is either
face-to-face or by telephone.
Complicating the problems faced by the maintenance staff are the job descriptions for
maintenance workers. Workers cannot perform many tasks without direct supervision. At the
school level, custodians (Maintenance Workers I) are hired by the school principal. Some
custodians perform maintenance work while others do not. The District provides seven
substitute custodians to fill in for the regular staff of thirty-three custodians. At one
school, bathrooms remained locked late into the morning because no custodian was
School maintenance personnel identified inadequate funding, poor equipment, outdated
vehicles, lack of training, aging buildings, and poor communications equipment as major
contributors to the maintenance deficiencies observed by the Grand Jury. The head of
maintenance lacks software to set up a maintenance tracking system. Such a system could
assist in identifying chronic problems, setting priorities, justifying budget allocations,
and establishing a preventive maintenance program.
Parents and citizens groups provide some maintenance services. Discussions with some
parents revealed a problem motivating volunteers to do work that is normally the
responsibility of the school district. Parents prefer to raise funds to enrich the
students educational experience rather than to replace playground pavement and
Recent legislation requires a ratio of one teacher to twenty students. This will only
increase the Districts maintenance problems. The District lacks any long-range plan
to address the current maintenance problems and future problems created by class
By the end of the fiscal year, the district projects a budget balance of $2,000,000.
Maintenance Worker I, II, and III job descriptions
1997/98 school budget
January and May Interim Budget Reports