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Construction, cleaning under way in many Forsyth schools

FORSYTH COUNTY — Classrooms may not be filled with students, tests may not be administered, and lockers have all been emptied for the summer, but schools never really close, which means they need to stay clean.

“Now we can do jobs we couldn’t do while students were in class, but we have to get them done before August,” said Bill McKnight, facilities and operations director for Forsyth County Schools.

Principals don’t just lock the doors and wish the building well until August. The routine begins with a deep cleaning of every school.

“Our custodial staff goes into rooms, and a third of the rooms are stripped to get their floors waxed,” McKnight said. “All of the furniture has to go out into the hallway for the rooms to gets four-six coats.”

The other two-thirds of the rooms still see their furniture sit in the hallway while staff does a top scrubbing.

Custodians are assigned to a specific school throughout the year, and they don’t get summer off.

“We have more at the high schools because they’re bigger. It goes by having one per every 20,000-25,000 square feet,” he said. “So elementary schools may have four each, middle schools may have seven, and high schools may have as many as 10 or 11.”

This summer will see more than the typical threshold of cleaning duties, McKnight said, due to the myriad constructions projects about to take off or that have already broken ground.

McKnight said there are additions projects, HVAC replacements or new construction being played out at all public high schools except West Forsyth, as well as Riverwatch Middle, South Forsyth Middle, Daves Creek Elementary, Settles Bridge Elementary, Midway Elementary, North Forsyth Middle and Vickery Creek Middle.

A priority is to make sure a walkway is ready at North High by the time school opens. It will lead students from the front of the school to campus so they can avoid construction that will be ongoing for the next two years.

The county’s Parks and Rec department also uses many of the schools’ parking lots for their summer camps, he said.

“There’s no such thing as a closed up building at Forsyth County High Schools,” he said. “I’ve been here since 2003, and this summer may be the busiest we’ve had.”