Announcing Healthy Kids Hero 2015

For Release March 18, 2015  
Contact: Ellie Goldberg,

Healthy Kids Hero 2015
Gregg Smith, Director of Facility Services
and his Salt Lake City Schools Facility Team for their Facility Services Newsletter,  
Fresh Paint — A WOW Experience

Cenotaph, New London TX
March 18, 2015 is the 78th anniversary of the 1937 TX School Explosion that killed more than 300 people, mostly students.  

Every year, in remembering the tragedy, I salute a Hero whose extraordinary sense of responsibility inspires excellence in school safety.  

Honoring an inspiring leader is part of a campaign to make March 18 a special day to bring "safety" from the margins to the core of school and community culture. (Lessons of the 1937 Texas School Explosion.)

Gregg Smith
The 2015 Hero is Gregg Smith, Director of Facility Services, and his Salt Lake City Schools Facility Team. 

Gregg and his staff have been widely recognized and congratulated for many successful exemplary programs and best practices in indoor air quality, integrated pest management, energy efficiency and recycling.   

However, this recognition applauds the Facility Services newsletter, Fresh Paint, for best practice in communication that builds and continuously strengthens a culture of responsibility and continuous improvement. Fresh Paint is an extension of Gregg Smith’s management philosophy “Communicate, Coordinate, Follow Through” and it is printed on every staff meeting agenda.

Every issue of Fresh Paint is a WOW experience.  

Fresh Paint has been published since 1998. Written by Facility Services staff, the articles provide insight into the “science” of operations and maintenance, the heart and soul of individual staff members, and their little and big daily decisions.

Fresh Paint has well-written, high interest content and a colorful design, a lively personality, a great sense of humor and lots of information for living safety with twenty-first century technology and chemicals.  

“Every moment is a teaching moment.” (Gregg Smith)

The articles showcase the special knowledge it takes to maintain complex buildings and building systems, playing fields and parking lots, office equipment, security system, energy systems, sprinkler systems and more. 

Every issue delivers a broad menu of essential information for quality management in all areas of school life such as infection control, equipment operations and maintenance, service schedules, chemical safety, earthquake preparedness and the technology of security keys, fire alarms, and solar panels.

Readers learn how to avoid pest problems, to avoid back injuries, improve emergency drills, as well as how to clean a projector’s cooling fan filters to prevent overheating and the proper way to choose and use batteries in a microphone. 

In Jan-Feb 2012, Grounds Supervisor Mark Ruff describes the benefits of turf grass (especially how much cooler it is than artificial turf on a hot day) and his watering practices.
Greg Libecci

In his column, Green Scene, Greg Libecci, Energy and Resource Manager, has an abundance of good news to report. From defining "Green School" (March-April 2014) to explaining the science of energy conservation and the components of the electricity bill to announcing their enormous savings and the district's many awards, he repeatedly celebrates the individual and combined efforts of students, teachers, schools, and all staff members.  

Greg recently described the special value of an individual staff member, Al Buhler, one of the electricians who observed a situation where the system was being overcharged. His report led to getting money back and more. (Jan-Feb 2015)

Safety Matters

The column Safety Matters and frequent references to health and safety are evidence that every member of the facility staff belong to one big safety team. Many of the articles address conditions or behaviors that are unsafe, unhealthy, or wasteful — contributing to greater knowledge and safety of the entire school community.  

All Stewards and Guardians

In the Jan-Feb 2012 column Clean Sweep, Robin Anderson writes about how important it is for a custodian to know the building he or she is assigned to. A good custodian has real ownership of their building. In conversations about their job good custodians make a reference to “My Building” or say things like “At My School.” She knows that these key words mean this person has started to develop real ownership in their job assignment. 

Every issue of Fresh Paint excels at putting a human face on the Facility Service. New staff are introduced and welcomed. Retiring staff are recognized and appreciated. Each staff member who writes an article or column has a unique voice and a characteristic way of conveying information. There are regularly “Old School” stories about the history of the district’s old school buildings, lovingly remembered by members of the staff. 
Chuck Smith

In the Jan-Feb 2015 issue, Gregg Smith makes sure that the dedication of individuals such as Chuck Smith, Technical Services Supervisor, are recognized. 

In a humorous and self-effacing article, Chuck described how the seasonal decorations hanging from the ceiling set off the security system alarms. In an editorial note, Gregg fills in a few more personalized details to provide a true appreciation of Chuck's response to security alarms. And thus he motivates everyone to play a role in preventing false alarms in the future. 

“The training builds our collective capacity.” (Gregg Smith)

There are frequent descriptions of how staff training updates their knowledge and technical skills to improve proficiency and performance in all areas of responsibility from infection control to water conservation.
IPM Star Certification 2010 – L to R, Robin Anderson, Gregg Smith, Steve Owens (USEPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP), Ricardo Zubiate, Merv Brewer, Mark Ruff

The Salt Lake City Schools Custodial Training Center is a surplus portable classroom, rescued and remodeled to provide training for facilities staff. The training is comprehensive. It includes principles of HVAC operation, filter management, floor care procedures, computer fundamentals, computer-based safety training, and the integrated green cleaning system as well as management and leadership. 

A Culture of Continuous Improvement.  

Jan-Feb 2012 Excerpt: The Facility Services Department invests a lot of time in training to maintain the skills of our employees at all levels. In the past five years, we have logged over 13,500 hours in formal training. Those hours represent three percent of our total available hours and a cost of over $360,000. Our training ranges from safety and regulatory compliance to drivers education and continuing education for licensing.  

Examples of training topics that increase the awareness, knowledge and skills of our employees include: Shared Governance, management techniques, computer skills, water auditing, CATV 6 cabling systems, Integrated Pest Management, pesticide applicator licensing, Custodial practices, HVAC basics, lead safety, best practice lighting controls and forklift training. 

Pest Management in Action
Pest Management in Action
 Training keeps our employees current with changing codes, practices and techniques as well as new technology and products. We also place a high priority on safety and OSHA related (regulatory) topics because this training helps to reduce accidents and injuries in the workplace. Because we repeat, repeat, repeat many of these same topics over again year-after-year, our training eventually becomes second nature.

In the column, Clean Sweep (Fresh Paint May-Jun 2013) Robin Anderson, Assistant Custodial Supervisor writes, "As the Custodial Department constantly looks for ways to improve, it is necessary for us to explore new products and ways to use them along with retaining some products we are currently using to get the job done.  As we look at new products and compare them to what we are now using, we have to ask ourselves some questions to determine if the product is better than what we are currently using…   

...How safe is the cleaning product for the people using it? Is it safe for people using the area?

… As all of us look not just for ways to solve problems, but look for ways to improve an already working program, we can ensure that we have a broader sense of all the concerns and benefits of a new project before we make an administrative decision to keep doing what we are doing or move towards something new that will exceed current expectations."

See the full article for questions for evaluating products, May-June 2013.

Leadership Plus 

Gregg Smith and his staff consistently demonstrate the qualities of leadership — initiative, high standards, professional pride and caring whether they are teaching about controlling germs with proper hand hygiene and cleaning top priority touch points in the classroom or pest management or capital improvements. 

Highland High 2012

And Gregg and staff members are valued teachers beyond the Salt Lake City School District at state, regional and national meetings.  For example, Smith presented “Integrated Pest Management Challenges and Cost-Benefits: A Facility Director’s Perspective" at the Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools National Symposium, Washington DC in 2011. 

Microfiber rags and mops are color coded 
for specific cleaning purposes.
Merv Brewer, District Assistant Custodial Supervisor, has been the driving force behind the adoption of green cleaning chemicals and practices and recycling.  He is a member of the Green Clean Schools Leadership Council, made up of winners of the Green Cleaning Award

Online for All: There is a treasure of model fact sheets, guidelines, policies and standards and issues of the Pest Press Newsletter, dedicated to avoiding and managing pest problems.  The school’s water and irrigation system is explained at Sprinklers, Irrigation and Water Conservation. It is another example of how students and staff are invited to participate, to report observations or problems they see.   
Ricardo Zubiate, Merv Brewer, Robin Anderson.
 "And, yes, they are generally that enthusiastic." (Gregg Smith)