Employees Are Our Most Valuable Resource. Let’s Treat Them Accordingly.
Robert E. Wilkinson, Jr.
Director, Maintenance and Operations
Frederick County Public Schools
Most skilled tradesmen come to school districts from the private sector and are often unfamiliar with some of the unique aspects of working within a public school system. Robert Wilkinson and the maintenance and operations team created an online, self-directed onboarding program that provides employees with information about critical topics such as the department structure, policies and procedures, work processing, budget and purchasing, diversity, customer service, and important points of contact. With 150 employees working in nine different locations, the program works to instill and support a districtwide culture that gives a sense of common purpose. Employees attain professional fulfillment and job satisfaction by mastering skills, working autonomously, and serving as leaders, regardless of their job classification.
Community-Driven Facilities Master Planning: Preparing Students for Their Futures, Not Our Past
Chief Operating Officer
Upper Arlington City Schools
Upper Arlington, Ohio
Faced with deteriorating facilities and a community that wasn’t convinced renovations were necessary, Upper Arlington City Schools, with direction from the school board and under Chris Potts’ leadership, launched a master planning process to involve as many community members as possible in forging a path forward. In two and one-half years, the district recorded more than 8,000 points of contact with community members through volunteer teams, community-wide meetings, small-group chats, phone surveys, and online surveys. The result was a community-developed master plan and an overwhelmingly successful $230 million bond request that will rebuild or renovate six buildings and ensure the district can continue to provide the high-quality education the community expects.
Using Excel Power Query to Automate Reports and Crosschecks
John A. Williams
Chief Financial Officer
Uinta County School District 1
Small districts like Uinta do not have the luxury of a large IT staff, so staff members spend countless hours manually checking and crosschecking data for reports. Two years ago, Williams’ staff began studying features in Microsoft Excel to improve efficiencies and realized that the largely unused Excel Power Query function could reduce manual processing, saving days in data preparation and comparison. The business office developed a suite of Excel Power Queries that includes such functions as a crosscheck time-checker between the accounting software and the computer time clock, liability queries between accounting software and liability billings, and budget queries between employee contracts and accounting software. The new processes save staff members several days of work each month.
Creative Planning Produces Low Cost Innovation Learning Junior High School
Robert L. Yoder, RSBA
Southern Hancock Schools
New Palestine, Indiana
For nearly 10 years, Southern Hancock Schools has maintained a closed school building with the intent to reopen it when necessary to accommodate a projected growth in enrollment. As anticipated, enrollment increased and because of the creative planning process, the district is able to move seventh and eighth grade students into the previously closed building while using the current middle school as an intermediate school to house grade 5-6 students. Prior to reopening, the district, under Yoder’s guidance, undertook a $2.5 million renovation, modernizing the building for 21st century learning, including whiteboards for every classroom and an Innovation Center with makerspaces rather than a traditional library. With creative planning and foresight, the district saved taxpayers an estimated $18 million.