Moffat County Locals: District facilities manager Mike Taylor keeps schools running 24/7/365
A small team of people are responsible for keeping Moffat County’s Public Schools running 24 hours per day, and maintenance of the facilities doesn’t end with the school year. It can continue seven days per week, 365 days per year.
Moffat County native Mike Taylor is the district’s facilities manager. After graduating from Moffat County High School in 1971, Taylor traveled across the state working in construction, building everything from custom homes to commercial buildings to water treatment plants. He also worked on the Dillon dam.
Traveling for construction work became difficult when he and his wife began raising their family, so they decided to return to the family ranch in Northwest Colorado.
“It was the right thing to do at the right time,” Taylor said.
Now, 32 years later, he sat down with the Craig Press to talk about his work and some of the challenges he and the team have faced as the schools have aged and funds have grown increasingly limited.
Craig Press: What are the most important things we should know about you, your life and your experiences?
Taylor: I’m dedicated to my family. My wife works for the district as a specialist. She really keeps me grounded. My kids are all grown and successful. I have great grandkids. I enjoy music. For years, I’ve played in different bands and written music and had some published in Nashville. I enjoy traveling. We travel anywhere that we need to enjoy something. We go to a lot of concerts. We recently came back from Las Vegas, where we saw Rod Stuart and Cher. Music: That’s one of our biggest passions.
CP: How is a job with a public school district different than working in the private sector?
Taylor: Working for a school is entirely different than working in construction. You’re working with dedicated people to help children. Doing construction my entire life, I experienced building houses for rich people and commercial projects, and you just wonder how you could get so much accomplished. Compared to the school district, I always thought working for the schools would be a very steady resource. It’s very difficult to sustain school districts. It’s not just our district; it’s all over the state.
CP: We know there are millions in unfunded capital projects. How long has that been the status quo?
Taylor: When you are talking about funding, you have to establish priorities, and our priorities are providing the best experience for the students. So we ask ourselves: Can you wait for this project?
You have to fund what a student and teacher needs to be weighed against facilities improvements. There have always been things in the 32 years that we needed to do and couldn’t afford to do. When we got the bond for the all the schools, we were able to do a lot of facilities maintenance. We were very thankful to get that bond, but there was still a lot to be done.
CP: How do the current capital needs compare to previous years?
Taylor: From what I’ve seen, legislation gets involved and makes it a little more difficult to spend money in the way you need to spend it. At one point, capital reserves were state-mandated, so that you could keep up. Then, 10 to 15 years ago, they took that away, allowing schools to decide how that money could be spent. I noticed that we started getting less and less as the needs were greater on the academic side. Before that, we knew how much we would get to spend each year. From that point on, things become more difficult.
CP: What challenges do you have in maintaining schools that might be different from those faced with maintaining other types of facilities?
Taylor: The land set aside for schools is usually the worst property. All of our properties are built on hills or springs. The high school is on a spring, Sunset has a high water table, East is on a hill that parents sometimes have difficulty driving to drop their kids off; all of these features create challenges.
CP: If a visitor were to shadow you during your workday, what would they see?
Taylor: This position is not a nine to five type job. In this position, you’re on call 24/7, so I’m on call in case of any emergency that arises or problems that need to be resolved. Being on call 24/7 is part of the job. You would see a lot of opportunities to deal with professionals, principals, contractors, designers and emergency responders. You are dealing with a huge array of personalities that can sometimes be difficult to manage. I try to do my best to please as many people as I possibly can. You want to get a lot of issues resolved. When someone has a problem, it may not be a big issue to you, but it is to them, and you do your best to try to resolve that. If it’s reasonable, you try to get it done.
CP: Tell me about your team and the work they do?
Taylor: I pride myself on hiring the best people that we can get. These folks are all licensed professionals. They all have a great desire to see the same goals as I see. They want to make the district the best that they possibly can. The challenge is that these guys don’t get paid as much as they could out in the field, however, many of them have worked for the district for 10, 15 or 20 years. It’s more like a family. I’ve never had anyone refuse to do something; I think it’s hard to find people like that. The people we have are just amazing. We do a lot of work. We’ve saved the district thousands and thousands of dollars accomplishing projects in-house. A lot of school districts don’t have what we have.
CP: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
Taylor: I think that school employees are some of the hardest working people I’ve ever met in all my experience. The environment they create is very centered on what kids need and trying to produce that product — a fantastic experience for kids. For me, it is amazing to be part of that experience.
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.