Education column: Maintaining school property more work than seems

Next in the installments describing the activities of Clovis Municipal Schools’ Operations Department during the summer months, here are some other things you might notice as you drive in and around town.

As schools’ window and frame trims are being repainted, a complementary, two-color scheme, relatively neutral (with the shade chosen by the schools), has become standardized to provide a consistent, clean-looking and aesthetically-pleasing appearance on our school buildings.

Grounds maintenance continues with mowing, watering, and clean-up. Many might not be aware of the extent of looking-after some properties owned by the district require.

To share once more what Gene Bieker, executive director of operations for the Clovis schools, recently mentioned: “Folks sometimes forget that whatever we own we have to maintain.”

For example, heading east on 21st Street, you’ll pass by a parcel of 40 acres at the edge of town owned by the district that also has to be mowed, a much more formidable task than mowing a patch of grass around a building. On Seventh Street just west of Sycamore is the baseball field, Bell Park, familiar to Clovis citizens. In addition to the sports field, the city block across the street from the baseball field to the west serves as a parking lot for fans, and, as such, needs to be mowed, maintained and kept clean.

One parcel that is actually self-sustaining is located to the west of town, about a mile past the hospital. This 40-acre parcel, surrounded by whitewashed pole-rail fencing, might be described as a giant outdoor lab and is maintained by the Clovis High School agriculture department.

If you drive by, you can see farm equipment — plows, tractors, and such. As part of the program, teachers and students use this area to learn about planting and harvesting by actually farming it. They then use the grain grown and harvested to feed the animals housed in the various pens on the same piece of land. Cows, pigs, goats, and sheep are often later shown at the county fair. Talk about real, hands-on learning.

During the course of gathering information about the various projects of the CMS operations department throughout the year, one of the main sources has been Gene Bieker, long-time employee of the school district. On a somewhat poignant ending note, Bieker is retiring at the end of July.

Bieker’s integrity, intelligence and warm sense of humor have made him a favorite throughout the district through the years. We offer a salute to our friend and colleague and wish him well in all future endeavors. In fact, we are doing so officially on Monday at a come-and-go reception in the board room at central office, 1009 N. Main St., from 3:30 until 5:00 p.m. We extend an invitation to any who would like to attend.

Buckminster Fuller said, “Integrity is the essence of everything successful.” That pretty much nails Gene Bieker.

Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy is the instructional technology coordinator for the Clovis Municipal Schools and can be reached at: