Sequim schools hire maintenance, transportation leaders

The 2023-24 academic year is still months away, but Sequim schools filled two key leadership roles in the district in mid-July.

Board directors on July 17 approved the hiring of Michael Santos as the district’s new maintenance and operations director, and Donald Hall as the district’s new transportation director.

Santos succeeds John McAndie, the district’s maintenance and operations director since 2004.

“This is an incredible opportunity for my family and I,” Santos said via Zoom at last week’s meeting.

“I know we have some very big shoes to fill … and a lot of work to do. I’m extremely excited.”

Sequim schools superintendent Regan Nickels said Santos comes to the position with about 25 years of experience, including several years as director of asset management for Denver’s (Colo.) Department of Aviation.

“Sequim certainly attracts interesting people,” Nickels said. “We’re all very humbled they have come to us.”

She said Santos’ start date would be Sept. 4, with McAndie helping Santos transition to the role.

Hall succeeds Rich Fulmer, and Nickels said she likewise hopes to have the newcomer and outgoing staffer collaborate for a smooth transition.

Hall said bus drivers should be considered one of the most important employees of the school district, as many students start and end their school day interacting with these staffers.

“Sometimes that is the last positive [interaction] with an adult for the day,” he said last week, after thanking the board for approving his hire.

Hall’s first day is expected to be Aug. 1, Nickels said.

Projects progress

A number of key capital projects that Sequim voters approved in February 2021 are seeing progress this summer, noted Chris Mafori, a project manager with the Wenaha Group, at the board meeting.

Replacement of roofs on the Sequim High School campus are scheduled to start Aug. 15 and be finished by the end of the month, he said.

He showed a detailed map of the projected work, including hazard zones on the ground near the roofs of the SHS gymnasium and cafeteria.

“We’ve had no problems with these contractors; [it’s] just a precaution,” Marfori said.

Contracted workers received pieces of the SHS gymnasium flooring on July 10 and are expected to take a couple of weeks to finish, with striping and sealing set for about Aug. 7.

The gym floor is expected to be ready on Aug. 18, just ahead of the first fall sports practice (volleyball) on Aug. 21, Marfori said.

The campus is also getting an assessment of ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) accessibility, he said, including buildings, parking lots and more; that’s expected to take a week, with a report back to the district within the the next couple of weeks, he said.

The design for the high school’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system should be up for a final review in the next two to three weeks, Marfori said.

AI discussion

Beau Young, the Sequim School District’s director of technology, said his department is having discussions about the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in classrooms.

AI can be beneficial for teachers, he said, to help with activities such as developing lesson plans, but the district will remain cautious about its use.

“We’re making sure something useful, [something] beneficial rather than harmful,” he said. “If it doesn’t check all the boxes for student safety and security, we won’t use it.”