The superintendent of Vancouver Public Schools had a shower installed in his office restroom over the summer at a cost of about $4,000 for labor and materials.
Steve Webb will use the shower to freshen up after a long day and before he heads to an evening meeting. The shower was paid for by the district’s general fund/facilities construction budget.
With the installation of the shower, Webb is the only head of a public educational entity in Clark County with private shower facilities just outside his private office.
“For me, the installation of a small shower in the restroom adjacent to my office is about increased productivity time. The job of the superintendent often extends well beyond the regular business day,” Webb wrote in an email Monday.
The shower enclosure is a 3-foot-by-3-foot prefabricated fiberglass corner unit that was installed in the existing semi-private restroom of the superintendent’s office, said Tom Hagley Jr., the district’s chief of staff. The restroom is accessible from the main hallway in the administrative services center, as well as the superintendent’s office, Hagley said.
Webb originally had requested a handheld shower nozzle and hose that could be attached to the sink faucet in the restroom. The restroom’s floor had an existing drain. But Todd Horenstein, the district’s assistant superintendent for facilities, advised Webb that it would be more cost-effective to install a small shower enclosure due to the drywall surfaces, Hagley said.
“If I can eliminate the need to drive 45 minutes to my home and back in preparation for work-related evening commitments, it’s more time-efficient for me and more cost effective for the district,” Webb wrote in his email.
“If the superintendent needs to run home to his home in Felida to shower a couple times a week, and has to come back and finish the day at the office, when he’s out traveling like that, he’d submit mileage reimbursement, like any employee will. Over time, the shower will be a cost savings,” Hagley said.
If Webb were to charge to the district the mileage to return home and shower before an evening meeting, rounded off to an 18-mile round trip at the IRS business standard mileage rate at $.565 cents per mile, he would have to make about 393 round trips from the district office to his Felida residence to equal the $4,000 cost of the shower.
Parsley center showers
Webb could conceivably use one of three private, family shower rooms next door at the district’s Jim Parsley Education, Family and Community Center.
“Historically, on occasion, I used the shower facilities in the Jim Parsley Education, Family and Community Center,” Webb said via email. “With the addition of new student programs at the center, including the Boys and Girls Club and Vancouver iTech Preparatory, it’s no longer a viable option. A long-standing and important practice of the district is to keep adult and student shower facilities separate,” Webb wrote.
Hagley said the Parsley facility’s role has changed so that it now primarily serves students.
“The configuration over there (at the Parsley Center) is a typical locker room shower, not private,” Hagley said. “We have kids using that during the day. That’s where John Erickson (the former superintendent) used to go when he needed to shower. Mixing adults and kids in the shower is not a good idea. The general premise of that is that it’s no longer a viable option, as it was when John Erickson was here. They had a fitness center where adults routinely were accessing the facility. It’s much more a student facility.”
The Parsley Center has three private, locking family shower rooms that are separate from the boys’ and girls’ shower rooms, but school officials say they are often rented along with the rest of the facility, and are now off-limits to staff.
Hagley noted that high school coaches have separate showers in their office areas so they don’t shower in the same place as students. The district also has showers for staff in its maintenance/grounds and transportation facilities, Hagley said.
Hagley said another reason Webb needs the shower facilities is that several times a year he gets out into the field and works a shift with classified employees — custodians, grounds crew, nutrition staff — “to get to know more about the jobs performed in the district,” Hagley said. Most recently, Webb helped staff recondition a running track.
"He'll go work on a sprinkler system or change the oil on a bus. This keeps him from having to go home to shower," Hagley said. Webb's experiences have been presented in the district's cable television program, "On the Job With Steve."
"He does that to get to know more about the jobs performed in the district. To build relationships with folks he typically wouldn't see on an everyday basis," Hagley said.
School board President Dale Q. Rice said the board had no prior knowledge of the administrative shower installation. It was part of upgrades made over the summer to the administration building.
"The board approves general annual summertime facility maintenance/upgrades throughout the district, but only if the project exceeds a certain dollar threshold," Rice wrote in an email. "This project was well under that threshold and was never brought to board attention."
Rice said Webb is running enthusiast, and sometimes will go for a run after work but before an evening meeting, so it made sense to let him have a place to clean up.
“This is not a sexy shower,” Rice said. “You should see it.”
Rice said that the shower will be available to other school administrators should they want to use it.
Other school superintendents in Clark County do not have access to private shower facilities, even at the university level.
John Deeder, superintendent at Evergreen Public Schools, the largest district in Clark County, does not have a private shower.
“We have one set of restrooms in the front of the building,” Kris Fay, public information coordinator for the district, said. “Not a lot of frills here.”
Duane Rose, interim superintendent at Battle Ground Public Schools, does not have shower facilities available at the district office, Gregg Herrington, district spokesman, said.
Mel Netzhammer, chancellor at Washington State University Vancouver, does not have a private shower, Mary Jo Hoffman, principal assistant to the chancellor, said. “There is one in the gymnasium, but that’s across campus,” Hoffman said.
Bob Knight, president of Clark College, does not have a private shower facility, said Chato Hazelbaker, chief communications officer at Clark. “He does have a small private bathroom,” Hazelbaker said. “His office was a former conference room with a bathroom. He inherited the bathroom.”