Clearing snow takes a long time and a lot of work. A school district snow crew has to clear all sidewalks, entry ways, parking lots, playpads, and athletic turf fields. What kind of manpower and equipment does a school district have at their disposal for this monumental task?
For Littleton Public Schools, it starts with a crew of 13 employees from the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) department. There are an additional eight department employees who helped out with the large amount of snow we received in mid-March, but usually it’s the core team of 13. Add to that a fleet of seven plow trucks, three dump trucks that carry ice melt (known as “slicer”), one backhoe, two small tractors for the artificial turf fields, a skidster, and sidewalk trucks for clearing walkways.
When it snows, this crew typically comes in at 11:00 p.m. to work through the night so LPS schools are accessible by morning. This is after they’ve already put in a full day of work, and it’s the same crew of 13 every time; however, the building facilitators and custodial staff throughout the district help out with clearing snow at their locations.
For the big snowstorm over March 14 and 15, the team came in for four hours on Saturday, March 13 to prepare. This meant making sure equipment had fuel and slicer was stocked and ready. There’s a slicer barrel at every school; these were filled. They conducted repairs and maintenance to schools’ snowblowers. On Sunday, March 14, they worked from 5:00 a.m. until 3–4:00 p.m., at which point the district called a snow day for Monday, meaning the crew didn’t have to continue to work through the night. They came back in the morning for another gruelling 12-hour day of snow removal on Monday, March 15. That’s approximately 338 total hours worked to clear snow from this one storm.
Staff at LPS Transportation also has a major role to play during snow storms. There is always a mechanic on standby when the O&M crew is clearing snow in the event a truck or other equipment breaks down. Mechanics come in on snow days to clear snow from buses and to move buses to be able to plow snow from the parking areas. On non-snow days, mechanics help out with plowing throughout the day when buses are out on runs, giving drivers aid on an already stressful day. Standby drivers come in and clear snow from walking paths and help get buses ready for routes.
Considerations have also been made for transporting students safely during these storms. Buses are equipped with the highest traction tires available for school buses. They have automatic tire chains to ensure drivers are able to traverse neighborhood streets as safely as possible. Drivers are also asked to check in early on snowy days in order to clear their buses of ice and snow and to make sure they have enough time to get to their stops to pick up students. Standby drivers and buses are placed strategically throughout the district to help out if a bus runs behind; they can quickly respond to transport students.
For all this, and for the work these departments do throughout the year in support of the district’s students, Superintendent Brian Ewert and Board President Jack Reutzel showed their appreciation by sharing a meal with the employees and thanking them in person. The O&M department had lunch provided a few days after the storm, and Transportation was provided with breakfast.
Main story photo: Transportation Director Marcy Phelps, Jack Reutzel and Brian Ewert greet and thank Transportation staff as they pick up breakfast.
Operations & Maintenance staff serve up pizza for lunch.
Breakfast at Transportation Services Center.