Many years ago, the Newark, California, public school system in the east bay area near San Francisco was struggling with chronic graffiti problems, high entrance maintenance costs, and frequent door replacements. They were searching for answers when Director of Facilities Larry Mara learned about Special-Lite® FRP Doors at a trade show. Larry thought they looked durable, so he decided to try four pairs on the toughest location in the system — the field-side gymnasium doors on the Junior High. Students were always kicking these doors open which destroyed hollow metal doors in mere months. The district had to paint most of their school doors almost annually, driving up maintenance costs.
As Newark USD was getting close to passing a bond issue for renovations and new construction, Larry met with a Special-Lite sales rep. Larry had appreciated the SL-17’s ability to resist vandalism and reduce maintenance costs, so he worked to specify Special-Lite as the district “no-sub” standard exterior door for both replacement and new construction.
Custom Colors Add More Life
Like many school systems in California, Newark USD has a district standard color which appears on lockers, chairs, wall panels, and many other furnishings, including interior and exterior doors. Special-Lite painted early Newark orders to match the district’s light blue standard color. When the bond issue passed, and hundreds of Special-Lite Doors were specified, Special-Lite created a custom-matched through-and-through colored FRP in “Newark Blue.” Special-Lite can offer custom FRP colors for orders of 100 doors or more.
Easy Cleaning FRP
To control their graffiti problem, Newark made it a policy to remove it within 24 hours. Quick removal discourages repeat attacks, and the SpecLite 3® FRP face sheets on the SL-17 made this easy to do without damaging the door finish. As a result, Newark has virtually eliminated its graffiti problem.
Bond Issues Don’t Pay for Maintenance
In 2003, the “test doors” on the gym were still in service. Larry Mara had retired, and the new Director of Facilities David Goldin was presiding over a major retrofit project involving the installation of more than 600 SL-17 FRP Doors with 10-32 Insert Frames on ten schools in the system. New construction has since pushed the total door count past 700. Mr. Goldin has moved on to the San Francisco Public Schools, where he has said he plans to continue solving entrance problems with Special-Lite FRP Doors.
“The bond program doesn’t pay for maintenance. We’re building all these new buildings but the bond program doesn’t add one new custodian to the program. This district made a decision to spend more money on certain products, bathroom partitions, Corian bathroom wall panels, FRP doors… things that will minimize the need for more custodians, because the money is not there.” – David Goldin
Even when school systems are successful in passing a bond measure to fund the construction of new schools, it won’t solve the problem of escalating operating and maintenance costs, unless building products and systems are specified that can reduce maintenance requirements while delivering longer service life, to provide the lowest possible lifecycle cost. Newark USD found that for exterior entrances, the right spec is the Special-Lite® SL-17 FRP Door.