Thursday, January 26, 2017

In charge on paper only

Today the fire department showed up two times, about and hour and a half apart.  Unbenounced to anyone in the building the fire/security panel apparently freaked out and silently dialed 911 (twice).  No alarms and strobes, and no reported errors on the panels.

Things happen, but this has happened twice since this summer when the had ESG (who got canned and replaced by Martin/Connecting Point) do the security panel upgrade.

You'd think "they" would have had someone look at it since that time.  Speaking of "they," it is just the most impressive thing in the world when you have something like this happen and you'd like to get a hold of someone.  Even more-so awesome, when the Fire Chief leaves a message trying to raise the dead, and no response from either the Director of Building and Grounds or the Assistant.

Thank goodness the building principal was eventual reachable and came in.  At least someone has a sense of responsibility.

The system was taken off line till a service technician could come in that night to trouble shoot it.  As there was a good chance if it could not be remedied before school next morning that they would have to cancel/delay school as you really can't go a whole day with the fire system/monitoring disabled when you have full occupancy.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Changing lighting ballasts

For the last couple years someone from Thomas Electric has been telling various Custodians that they shouldn't be changing lighting ballasts.

This person never mentions if there is some sort of recent code change, so when I hear this I figure even if its true, its the result of the IBEW and lobbing, not something based on logic.  It's not like ballasts have changed in recent years, nor have a I heard of any tragic mistakes made by non electricians.

So I decided to look into it.  The 2016 Winter Commercial Electrical Code Update from the Wisconsin DSPS has this Q and A, easy to understand answers to common code questions:

We have an employee who installs electrical wiring  in our facility. We are licensed as a RCAC or  residential care facility. Does our employee have to be licensed as an electrician? What are her  options as far as the type of license needed to per form her work?
ss 101.862(4)(b)
Answer: Yes for installation. No for repair.  Ss 101.862(4) (b) Employees may perform maintenance or repair. Installation must be done by licensed electricians. ...

Which is what you would expect.  Don't be fooled by someone looking to safeguard "their" work.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Verbal diarrhea

For years I have been hearing my boss complain about the cost of the floor port covers in the cafeteria.  These are the things you lift up to access plugs in the floor.

There are four of them where I work,  and they break often (2-3 times a year) and become a tripping hazard.

We don't actually use the plugs in the floor anymore, so if someone was more than hot air, they'd have an electrician come in and remove the wiring.

Or bring the over priced ($142 each from Grainger) plastic junk to a fab shop and have them make a metal one.  (2TEC5 Floor box cover, 8 -1/8 in Grey)

About a year ago I got tired of hearing about this stupidity, and created a very simple metal one of my own as a proof of concept as to how simple it really is.  Since then the remaining plastic ones have  been replaced and mine held up.  I kind of hoped this would prompt someone in charge to do something more than the same old insanity.  Guess again... so I'll be god-damned if I'll ever make another one for anyone.  If I get paid to make them, then maybe.

On the theme of verbal diarrhea, here is another annoying thing..

I noticed this years safety training includes yet more dumb crap that doesn't pertain to us, as its not in the scope of what we do, etc.  But the ultimate annoyance is the double standard.  Lock-out-tag out, never, I repeat never gets followed by outside contractors.  Right now we have a water heater contractors removed and the, electricity, gas and water for the thing have no lock out tag out on them, and will likely be this way for several more months.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Security upgrades

This summer most if not all the De Pere schools had their access control systems upgraded.   The work was done my ESG.  It may have not gone as smooth as it should have, but they are not the only ones making mistakes.

Over the weekend there was a small power interruption in De Pere.  This caused the fire department to receive a false call from Foxview.  (Apparently the thing doesn't have batteries)

Here is the more massive error, on the district's part.  Someone forgot to give the fire and police department a new fob/access card so they can get into the building in the event of an emergency.  And whats more is the physical key in the knox box no longer fits the door.

So while it sounds nice on paper and maybe provides some sort of assurance when part of the referendum dollars is allocated to "security upgrades", in reality is means little when those in charge don't take responsibility.

Thank god this was a false alarm type of thing to bring this issue up.  

Funny part is somehow the technology director, Michael O'Call***** still has his name attached to the whole building security thing.  I was under the impression that shifted to the director of buildings and grounds a few years back.  Quite frankly I don't understand why that guy is still employed.  Seems even more obvious after seeing more staff turnover in his department.  And when these fine folks move on, their new employers even know how bad the guy is.

That speaks volumes, combined with his staff leaving without any solid employment lined up before leaving.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Petty stuff

I see no fundamental difference between these two situations;

Staff that throws out/takes home aluminum cans

Staff that throws out items on the lost and found table at the end of the year.

In neither situation the items are the districts, nor does anyone have the permission from the real owners to take/dispose of the items. It's a case of abandon property, covered by common law.

Again the real issue is making a mountain out of a mole hill = admin not having better things to do.  Really all that comes from this is distrust with your supervisors. 

In both situations it costs the district money to deal with the abandon property.  They pay to get rid of their recyclables/trash and or take the stuff somewhere.

In neither case; can the district claim theft.  The didn't own the stuff, and suffered no economic loss from the stuffs removal.

It reminds me of a situation a few years back where an employee had permission from the wood shop teacher to take home scrap wood to burn.  The "director of buildings and grounds" gets on the guy about this.  And then takes the scrap wood home himself.

At least in that case the wood might be the districts property (though that can maybe argued as most of that is paid for by student project fees), where as the aluminum cans were not.  Either way its all pretty stupid.  As if these admin are saints and never borrow district property etc.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Conflict of interest explained.

The guys wanted me to ask you if the guy that is the president of the school board, Paul S********* runs Aurora. And everything with the school is Aurora (nurse, health fair, flu shots) is that conflict of interest?

Me: I think as long as he abstains from voting on anything related to that its fine. Like Dan Van S****** abstained from voting on the support staff raise because his wife is a health aide for example.  And obviously Shelly T***** being the curriculum director really doesn't have any direct say for any work awarded to Thomas Electric.

Me: I still don't like it, but I think that is how it can be acceptable per the board bylaws/policies.  Basically there is a whole lot of circle-jerk, you scratch my back, I'll scratch your stuff that goes on that doesn't necessarily always lead to a fair rendering of services in my opinion.

Me: Paul S********* can't propose/vote an Aurora Heath fair for example, but he tells someone else too. And if Shelly T***** was on the board, he'd say if you do that for me, I'll suggest we hire Thomas electric for those jobs since she wouldn't be able too. As an example of how the big picture works.
"No employee shall engage in or have a financial interest, directly or indirectly, in any activity that conflicts or raises a reasonable question of conflict with his/her duties and responsibilities in the school system"
The key loophole word is "engage" if you haven't figured it out.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Actions speak louder than words

Back in November 2014 I noticed a couple of administrative staff members received bonuses from reading the school board minutes.  This has never happened in the history of De Pere school district and I was curious to the rationale behind the decision, especially in light of receiving a 2% raise that year that worked out to an insulting 20 cents.

So I researched the various board members, and decided to contact the clerk, who also made an appearance that year for education week held in November in our building.  He seemed like an approachable guy.

My initial impression of his response was a bit to touchy-feely for me.  Heavy emphasis along the lines of "Let me assure you that the board and district cares what you do and you are valued... For what its worth, we can't do a damn thing without you."  Blah-blah...

Now to the part relating to my question/concern:

"As you know, and as you made mention to, the salary increases have been frozen, then reinstated to a minimum over the last several years.  As our funding from the state has decreased, we have had to made adjustments and changes in the way we operate.  Slowly, those funds are returning and we are able to show wage increases, thanks to budget work within the district..."

"Now in regards to bonuses, this is something we are looking at in all areas of the district.  I do feel at times if an individual is going about and beyond their normal duties we can support something in the way of a bonus...."

"In this particular case, I felt, along with others, that a bonus was justified.  We are reviewing this with all employees moving forward.  We want to recognize and reward those individuals who have exceeded expectation...."

Almost a year later and no other bonuses have issued to anyone that I can see from reviewing board minutes.

An open records request shows administration received a 4.4 % raise for the 2014-15 school year when compared to data for 2013-14.  Yet the October 20, 2014 school board agenda indicates Support Staff, Teaching Staff, and Administrative Staff salary increases were made the same day, and on all three report 2%.

I had a lot of other dialog with this board member, and unfortunately it all pretty much followed the same district theme of image before accountability.   Suffice to day, I wasn't really impressed with the guy unfortunately, as he gave me a pretty strong indication that he didn't want to hear anymore of what I had to say.