We often reference the work of educators and support staff when we talk about the reopening of school, but the work of our Department of Buildings and Grounds is always critical, especially this year.

Director of Buildings and Grounds Art Tobin and his department staff are absolutely vital to maintaining the health of our facilities and occupants. Art’s team approach to cleaning is so effective that he was asked to present at a national seminar hosted by the National Association of School Business Officials entitled, “School’s in Session: Safe Cleaning in a COVID-19 Climate.”

This team approach goes well beyond his department. Art works with vendors, chemists, and contractors as an extension of Buildings and Grounds, and regularly seeks feedback from all district staff regarding the effectiveness and side effects of products. He monitors and aligns practices with the CDC, MDH, and MDE, and meets and exceeds the cleaning standards of the ISSA (International Sanitary Supply Association) and APPA (Association of Physical Plant Administrators). He also works closely with Resource Training and Solutions, other districts and entities, and will be the first person to tell you that making buildings as safe and healthy as possible is an ongoing process.

Art’s work accounts for the long-term health and safety of our schools as well. He oversaw three years of construction and worked closely with vendors and contractors to provide a high quality indoor environment that is also cost-effective. To date, and working with utilities such as North Branch Water and Light (NBWL), Xcel, East Central Energy, as well as Kraus Anderson and ATS&R, over $200,000 in efficiency rebates have been secured with more to come.

Of Art’s work with NBWL, Nancy Kelly of the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency said, “The team that put together the design for this project did an excellent job selecting and installing equipment that goes above and beyond the baseline requirements for efficiency. The buildings will provide a great and comfortable learning environment while saving energy for years to come.”

Art will be a featured presenter on a national roundtable in October, on the subject of HVAC. His work on our improved HVAC systems is a primary reason we are able to host in-school services five days a week. I am deeply appreciative of Art’s work, the work of his department, and all our partner utilities in creating our incredible school environments, and for the daily commitment that goes into making them healthy and safe for both students and staff. Art and team, thank you for your service to North Branch Area Public Schools!

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