By Sam Lynam
Many teachers and students are fed up with maintenance during school hours due to constant distractions limiting classwork and affecting the learning environment in classrooms. Novato High teachers and students have voiced their opinions of the maintenance and would like to see changes made to prevent the work from happening during school hours. Many of the teachers in the Social Studies and English wings have been voicing their disappointment for many years to no avail.
Almost all of the classrooms are affected by this constant maintenance because they do it weekly, most commonly on Wednesdays. The teachers aren’t always aware of the exact time the workers will come, so they have to form their lesson plans knowing they will get interrupted by the loud noise of lawn mowers and leaf blowers. In particular, teachers in the 2100 and 2200 wings have stated their strong feelings towards it. With the lawn needing to be mowed at least once a week, it leaves teachers with the issue of having to teach around these distractions.
US History and AVID teacher Alex Kinnee discussed this maintenance issues.
“Every Wednesday they seem to do maintenance on campus, and it’s really loud and it’s hard because especially in the history wing, we are right next to the lawns that they tend to mow and do work at,” Kinnee said. “I find myself having to yell over it to just even give directions.”
Senior Branden Taylor voiced his opinions about the maintenance disruptions.
“In the mornings I think that the history classes are disrupted because of the lawn mowers and stuff like that,” said Taylor.
We can see the impact on learning throughout the whole school. At some points the noise can get so loud that teachers have to almost change their lesson plans due to trouble hearing.
Senior Nate Hunter weighed in about his experience with this issue.
“I have not really noticed the noise this year because the year has just begun, but last year and previous they for sure did maintenance pretty much anytime and it seemed to be during class,” Hunter said.
The issue still hasn’t been resolved due to the fact that maintenance workers are still are out weekly, either mowing the lawns or blowing the leaves off the paths.
NUSD Maintenance and Grounds Supervisor Kyle Manford described the topic of distracting students at Novato High in an email.
“I don’t know if it’s about preventing distractions, because there definitely are distractions, but more so as how we can coexist,” explained Manford. “We try to be as nonintrusive as possible. We wouldn’t do any heavy, major work during school hours. We perform campus interior maintenance once a week (every Wednesday) and are only in certain areas for 20 minutes at a time.”
In this response, it is apparent that they try to find times where they will not be distracting to the classes. But while doing this, they don’t even think to let the teachers know when and where they are going to do this. If they let the teachers know what times they would be doing this, teachers would be able to prepare for it.
Kinnee discussed how she has adapted to the maintenance noise.
“I try to keep it in mind when I plan my block activity lessons,” Kinnee said. “I usually have my students working together and being more active rather than just direct instruction from me so it tends to work out better than me having to yell over the noise. But, it is hard to think when you have to yell to hear your own voice.”
We have seen in the past and still see today the maintenance workers doing their jobs, from mowing the lawn to blowing leaves, and other work around school despite teacher and student disapproval. It would benefit NHS if the district would trim down work hours and limit work to certain areas when classes are in session. With these potential changes, we could see some positive impacts..
If nothing is done about it, the teachers and students of Novato High might just have to get used to it.