Maintenance to the campus pushes forward despite cuts

Sean Keister

Sacramento State is looking to complete projects in Tahoe, Yosemite, and Capistrano halls while bracing for future budget cuts.

“We have an allocation right now,” said Mario Ruiz, the interim associate vice president of facilities at Sac State. “We have a lot of projects right now on the board that we are either working to complete or getting ready to go out or bid and or get done.”

Ruiz said Gov. Jerry Brown’s recent proposalto cut$500 million from CSUs and $500 million from UCs will have a serious impact on the future of the campus.

“Those are the cuts we are going to be taking and that will filter down to each department, including us,” Ruiz said. “Surely, it will have some effect. We don’t exactly know what’s going to happen at this point. It’s an unknown and that’s what I think people are trying to brace themselves for.”

Ruiz said that the 2010-11 budget was not as severe as expected and they were able to manage for the remainder of the semester. Right now they are budgeted for whatever projects are in the queue and they are proceeding regardless of what happens, Ruiz said.

“Each and every year when we get allocations for our budget then we make our choices you know as to what is the highest priority, what will address our campus needs,” Ruiz said.

One of the highest priorities this school year was the storm drainage problem being worked on near the Academic Information and Research Center and library, which is near completion.

Ruiz said another project under way is repairing Tahoe Hall,which is undergoing repairs for water damage. They also plan to replace a boiler in Humboldt Hall. They are also getting ready to replace the 50-year-old gym floor in Yosemite. In Shasta Hall, the air handler is about to be replaced, as well as the heating and ventilation controls in Capistrano Hall.

In addition to this list, they are looking at general tripping hazards with the pavement throughout campus this semester, allocated for the 2010-11 budget.

“They’ll be done by this summer, irrespective of what happens with the budget, we certainly give a high priority to the health and safety to not only our employees but the campus in general,” Ruiz said.

Ruiz said since the 2011-12 will be lower the time to work on campus projects is now.

“They really address some of the safety issues that are long standing and it’s a good time to get into those,” Ruiz said.

Ruiz said one project he is enthusiastic about is an energy project to address lighting issues on campus. Specifically, the trail from student housing back to the Well, which he said is a long path that really needs lighting. He said it gives them an opportunity to energy retrofit the lamps, which according to Ruiz is another savings for the campus because the older technology in the lamps uses more energy.

“It’s a good opportunity not only to heighten our safety, but our energy as well,” Ruiz said.

He said that his department is sensitive to the academic schedule as to not interrupt classes for repairs.

“Sometimes we have to do them during the year which sometimes does interfere somewhat but we’re able to manage it,” Ruiz said.

While the budget for the rest of the year is planned, it is still unknown how much will be available for the following year.

“I think you have to be positive about it,” Ruiz said. “It does nobody any good to think doom and gloom.”

Ruiz said he is confident that California will recover from this budget crisis.

“We know the economy is going to get better, but we want to make sure we position ourselves right now and plan for what we have coming,” Ruiz said. “It’s not easy, it’s in constant flux, but we have to look at what we need to do in the future to address the needs of our students and faculty.”

Michael Vann, an associate professor of history at Sac State said the audio/visual upgrades in the classrooms have been a little uneven on campus. He said there have been problems such as maintenance making sure that there are proper hookups for the data projectors and proper sound system in all the classrooms.

“Some classrooms we have to bring in our own cables,” Vann said. “Some have older projectors some have newer projectors, sometimes the sound system is adequate, sometimes it’s not adequate.”

He said he really needed their assistance last year when they were doing upgrades around campus. He was in Amador 150 teaching a class of about 100, and noticed that the speakers in the room were completely inadequate emitting only a whisper.

“So this meant that all this time and university money that had gone into preparing my audio visual PowerPoint lectures in history with images and or sound and students couldn’t hear the sound,” Vann said.

Vann made several calls to maintenance over five or six weeks who repeatedly blamed his laptop which he told them worked fine in other rooms.

“Finally, I get to somebody who says it was on the list for audio/visual upgrades but they had to defer it because they had to get the asbestos out of it first,” Vann said. “Which did not make me feel particularly comfortable in that room.”

Vann said he never got new speakers installed for his class that semester.

“I don’t know how much of a threat it is,” Vann said. “It’s evidently something that would keep them from simply working on speakers.”

Ruiz said that it can be a complicated and expensive procedure.

“Once you get to something like mounting a speaker, it can be done, but it comes with a cost, because now they have compliance they have to deal with,” Ruiz said. “It’s a different process on how you treat it, you have to treat it wet, have to be trained have to have protective equipment, make sure you take all of the safety precautions so it does cost more, unfortunately.”

Ruiz said there are no dangers encapsulated, and the only time asbestos is of any danger is when it is airborne.

Christine Hall, administrative coordinator for the department of environmental studies, said she has definitely seen a downward shift in general upkeep of the campus since summer.

“There are issues with the bathrooms and classrooms being unclean,” Hall said. “You can definitely see that there has been a negative impact on the cleanliness of our buildings based on the custodians being here during the day and not being able to get into the classrooms or offices while class is being held.”

Ruiz said his department decided to make the change in the custodial staff’s shift from an evening shift to a afternoon to evening schedule back in July. It would save the department money since due to their collective bargaining agreement, the cleaning staff earns more when they work in the evening. So as a result, the custodians work a mid-shift, instead of starting at 5 p.m. like they did before last summer.

“We decided to alter the shift rather than cut positions so it’s a cost saving plan, but at the same time it preserves positions,” Ruiz said.

Without knowing exactly how much will be cut from the facilities department, he said the future is uncertain.

“I’m optimistic. It’s not going to be easy, it’s going to be difficult,” Ruiz said. “You can’t play your hands unless you have the cards dealt to you.”

Sean Keister can be reached at [email protected]