John Colasanti retired in style on Wednesday as the Coordinator of Maintenance with the Citrus County School Board. Decked out in Boston Red Sox colors, faculty and staff sent him off in style with a retirement party at the district office in Inverness.
“I’m going to enjoy every minute of retirement,” he said. “I plan to spend my days at baseball games with my son and promise I will never be bored.”
Colasanti came from the home construction trades when job demands set him on the path to find a new career in the 1980s. “I have four children, that is why I came here,” Colasanti said. “It was the steady paycheck, time with my family, and they even let us drive the company truck home at night at the time.”
In his 30 years with the school district his job changed many times. After beginning as a technician in the maintenance department he became a health and safety specialist, then environmental safety project leader, and finally the coordinator of maintenance.
For years, when new safety regulations came from the state of Florida, he was the one to find the most efficient and least costly way of fixing problems like asbestos abatement or removing lead from sand at old gun range at the Withlacoochee Technical College.
“It has changed so much over the years. When I first came I saw a potential for how we could organize to get things done on a more preventative maintenance schedule rather than a reaction to a crisis every day,” he said. “I would try and get things in order. It was never to rework anything that happened in the past, it was just ‘today we start over and go in a new direction.’”
Throughout the years, Colasanti was the guy who kept schools running safely, and he was happy to make changes at a moment’s notice. He said some of the biggest changes were positive ones, remarking that he only received one paycheck a month in the early days.
“People say schools are closed in the summer and you get two weeks off in the winter. Not these guys,” Assistant Superintendent of Schools Mike Mullen said of Colasanti and his staff. “Not a day goes by during Christmas vacation that we aren’t sending a maintenance guy to check something out.” The community, Mullen said, probably doesn’t know the degree or the quantity of work that Colasanti’s department accomplishes every year.
“With John retiring goes a tremendous wealth of knowledge. He is the only guy in this district that knows every nut, bolt, wire or waterline; everything in each facility,” said Jonny Bishop, executive director of school support services. “He will be missed.”
Eric Stokes will be taking over Colasanti’s post at the end of the month, and school officials are confident the transition will be smooth.