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Busy week as schools get ready

Football players have their Hell Week, that series of grueling practices that whips players into shape for the coming season. For Chuck Hyatt, there's Back to School Week.

Hyatt is the head custodian at Rosemount High School and he's a very busy man these days. With a full complement of teachers back in the building this week and 2,000-some students set to arrive next week there is a lot to do to make sure everything is ready when classes start Sept. 2.

"It's kind of like a car. If it's been sitting for a long time you kind of have to check things out before you go on a trip with it," Hyatt said.

These last few days custodians are busy arranging furniture, cleaning halls and giving mechanical systems a last going-over.

Sitting in his office near the school's loading dock Tuesday morning Hyatt seems to be the go-to guy for everything from adjusting thermostats to settling disputes over whether the Irishettes or the volleyball team gets to use the gym. Since teachers came back to work earlier this month he's started each day with a list of repairs to make and rooms to rearrange. It can make for some long days. Hyatt typically starts work around 6 a.m. and heads for home around 3:30 p.m.

"There's 130 teachers and Chuck is one person," Hyatt said.

That may be, but Chuck is in charge of a staff of 16 custodians to maintain the 420,000 square foot building. There is at least one custodian around nearly around the clock. Many areas of the school -- like the gym, which gets heavy use after school hours -- aren't available for cleaning until late at night.

Keeping everything running smoothly can be tricky at RHS. The bulk of the building was built in 1963 and 1964 but there have been several additions since then. And with each addition, things were done a little bit different. Getting all the systems to play nice together isn't always easy.

Technology has also changed the way Hyatt does his job. Adjusting temperatures in the classrooms used to mean going to each room in the building. Now he can control individual rooms from the computer at his desk.

Then there's the cleaning and general maintenance. RHS has got more than seven football fields worth of floor space to keep tidy and when you're cleaning up after 2,000 teenagers during the school year there's not a lot of time to tackle the big projects. Most of those get done over the summer. Floors are cleaned and buffed. Locker combinations are changed. Gym floors are refinished. Crews wash and paint walls and clean the bathrooms with a power washer.

"Everyone's got plenty of work to do," Hyatt said. "If they're not busy, it's not because there's no work."

Some of the messes custodians come across during the school year are the understandable result of regular use by a large group of kids. The school's cafeteria is a mess each day after lunch. Other messes, though, make Hyatt wonder.

"Different things that happen in the restroom are unpleasant," Hyatt said. "Sometimes things happen in the stalls. Things get busted and broken and we don't know why it happened.

"I guess I wonder why they do what they do sometimes," he said. "Graffiti is one thing."

All things considered, though, Hyatt said the students at RHS aren't much trouble.

"We're fortunate with as busy as the schools are and as many people as the schools serve that we don't have a bad element," he said.

Now, if he can just make it through Hell Week.