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By Sherry Posnick-Goodwin

Our 2021-22 Innovation Issue salutes educators who dare to imagine a world where life is better for their students:

“My job is to make sure our kiddos have the best learning environment and that teachers can concentrate on teaching.”

Teachers in Redlands Unified School District may not know it, but Loren Parck is making sure their classrooms and school buildings are comfortable and well maintained so they can teach in a pleasant environment.

Parck is the maintenance and operations technician for the district’s 25 school campuses and works in the district’s Service Center with the maintenance department. She was recognized by her district in 2021 for being an “outstanding school employee who sees the big picture and is an integral agent of change and improvement, who prioritizes a myriad of needs to the right people in the right place at the right time.”

“My job is to make sure our kiddos have the best learning environment,” says Parck, a member of Redlands Education Support Professionals Association. “It’s also to make sure that teachers don’t have to even think about things that I take care of, so they can concentrate on teaching.”

When Parck first came on board six years ago, things were done with paper and pencil. Her mission was to improve efficiency. She asked the district to provide new iPads and convinced administrators to see the benefits of modernizing. The result was that work orders that previously took days to process are completed much faster, making everyone happier.

“Bringing in technology to our department streamlined five steps into one for our staff.”

Parck also decided to update the preventative maintenance (PM) scheduling system for schools, which includes inspections of plumbing and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems, and replacing worn carpet and painting school sites.

“Preventative maintenance is important because teachers don’t have to deal with a dripping faucet in the back of a classroom, because we have a plumber check faucets every six months and make repairs before anyone notices there is a problem,” she explains. “It’s the same with HVAC; technicians check the filters and make sure units are functioning properly a few times a year, so teachers don’t have to worry about whether the air conditioner will turn on during hot days.”

Loren Parck and another woman with their cleaning equipment.

Parck (right) and colleague get their equipment ready.

To improve the PM scheduling and efficiency, Parck mapped every school building in the district. Buildings were categorized by age; for example, buildings over 100 years old need more PM than modern buildings. She went through blueprints and listed the square footage of buildings, how many rooms each one has, the age of the roofs, and whether or not major work had been done on them.

“I compiled a massive amount of data into a living, breathing document in 2018,” says Parck. “It took me months. I still had to manage my other daily tasks and worked on it as time permitted.”

Having pertinent information in one place allows the district to make better financial decisions and save money. Some repairs may not be worth it, such as replacing parts of portable classrooms that have reached the end of their life cycle.

When students returned to schools after the COVID-19 shutdown, the district hired staff to disinfect and sanitize. Parck made sure they had the equipment and cleaning/disinfecting items they needed.

Parck grew up in San Bernardino and worked for years as a support professional in the classroom before switching classified positions.

“It was an unknown world to me. I went from working in the classroom and keeping track of students to keeping track of tractors, lawn mowers, dump trucks, plumbing fixtures, pool pumps, door locks and HVAC units. I had a lot to learn, but I knew that we needed to do things differently.”

While she loves her job “because no day is ever the same,” she has a message for those who don’t see her and her colleagues working behind the scenes. “Reach out and let us know what’s going on. If you see or hear that something isn’t right, let us know. We’d rather be proactive than respond to an emergency.”

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