Eye of the Tiger

EYE OF THE TIGER’S VIEW: FIT Report offers misleading snapshot

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(SINO OULAD DAOUD/EYE OF THE TIGER)

(SINO OULAD DAOUD/EYE OF THE TIGER)

(SINO OULAD DAOUD/EYE OF THE TIGER)

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RHS’ latest maintenance overview determines overall, the campus is in “good” shape. This is incongruent with a tradition of “exemplary” ratings from years past that competed with many students’ daily realities.

The Facility Inspection Tool (FIT) has been developed to determine if a school facility is in “good repair” as defined by the CA Education Code. The 2016-17 report will be copied to CDE’s new accountability system Dashboard for public viewing in 2018. The report — while lawfully conducted — fails to encompass many of RHS’ exterior faults.

The report includes evaluations of 111 RHS facilities. No exterior spaces were surveyed due to the “complex” layout of the campus and a district focus on learning environments, according to RJUHSD director of maintenance and operations Kris Knapp.

However, FIT dedicates an entire category within the report to exterior spaces. Within the FIT guidebook, methods to evaluate “playgrounds/school grounds” are even suggested. But, since all 111 RHS facilities surveyed were interior spaces, this category received an “N/A” rating 111 times.

This exclusion of exterior evaluations alone ensures the FIT Report cannot be a comprehensive representation of RHS as a whole, considering the majority of campus faults lie beyond classroom doors.

This category’s final rating of school grounds in “good repair” is also misleading. RHS’ current “playgrounds/school grounds” ratio is 0:0 — zero school grounds had “deficiencies” out of zero school grounds evaluated. This ratio was translated to a 100% positive rating because according to Knapp, a “100” is the “default” percentage.

Mathematically, this translation is impossible. It doesn’t add up, literally. This category should have been left “undefined” instead of contributing a perfect score for an unevaluated category to the school’s overall average percentage.

FIT inspectors technically filled out the report to its completion, but the annual overview can be utilized to do more than check off boxes. The FIT offers comment sections to list deficiencies not given as examples, and allows schools to decide what can be sectioned off as a facility for rating. RHS utilized none of these options for exterior spaces. The FIT should be used to transparently document realities, self-reflect on all facets of campus and set goals for improvement.

The current sewage and drainage rating was compiled using only interior data, not taking into account any possible exterior flooding with which RHS students and staff are all too familiar.

The 900s parking lot, amphitheater, senior square and basically all campus walkways experienced flooding when a rainstorm hit campus March 21 this year. These areas show signs of “trip hazards,” “deterioration” and have the potential to become “flooded areas” under certain conditions. Consequently, if they were evaluated on the report, they would fall to the guide’s examples of deficiency in both of the previously mentioned categories.

However, it is true that the report serves as only a snapshot of RHS’ maintenance because all facilities are evaluated in one day. Meaning, it is likely inspectors would be unable to detect signs of an infestation in a classroom and record there are none, but weeks later students in the same classroom could be evacuated to a far-off portable to take their final exam due to a bird mite infestation. This scenario unfolded last spring. However, since the evaluation is already complete, that classroom will be shown as having no pest issues until next year’s evaluation, when this could all happen again.

Neither RJUHSD’s Department of Maintenance and Operations nor a third-party company has compiled a similar report for RHS’ exterior areas, because it has never been requested according to Knapp. But to truly document campus maintenance, this will be necessary. The first step to solving an issue is to open a dialogue about the problem itself. RHS’ campus is complex in its design and 105 years old, but poor maintenance shouldn’t be mistaken as charming. The flooded area in the 900s parking lot earns its community-given name of “Lake Roseville” each winter. But it shouldn’t be seen as an amusing quirk. It’s a serious issue RHS has chosen to just accept. Students walking from a portable to the 900s during a rainy passing period should not have water up to their ankles.

The FIT Report is an annual small step in documenting RHS’ overall maintenance. To truly capture RHS realities, more attention must be paid to issues on campus, even if they are not listed as specific examples on the FIT Report.

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