Staff, Students Rely on Facilities Managers for Building Safety
With the new school year here, managers in education aren’t holding their breath.
This is part two of a two-part series. To read the first part, please click here.
No facilities program is successful without amplifying an operations team. The operators are running the properties that the facilities teams are maintaining, so being in regular communication can help provide the best outcomes for a building and those that occupy it. Working together is the key to cost-savings because it allows managers to look at a project through two different sets of lenses.
“Collaboration with other leaders from other school districts is important because it saves us from having to reinvent the wheel,” says Lynch. “By sharing best practices and lessons learned, we all learn from each other much faster than if each of us in the state had to go through individual trials and tribulations of our operations work. We are also able to introduce vendors to each other who have successfully provided valuable services to the school system. We often go through multiple vendors to find one that can perform duties at the level we need. By discreetly sharing references, good or bad, we are able to get to the right solutions faster and get our work done.”
Collaboration is two-fold: internal interactions with instructional leaders and communication among facilities leaders from across the country are necessary to assess needs, prioritize the work and ensure sustainability. Angela Testa, senior vice president of operations, American Campus Communities, uses these collaborative discussions to invest in her employees through education and advancement. Receiving valuable feedback from other like-minded professionals can help adjust policies and allow for better recruitment for new employees.
“By participating in our new apprenticeship program, a team member can map their path to advancement by following a one-year plan,” says Testa. “For example, if someone comes in as a porter and expresses interest in growing with the company, we ask if they’d like to participate in the apprenticeship program. If so, they would go through a skill set assessment, and also communicate to us what their goals are and what their interest level is in getting promoted to maintenance technician. We will then provide them with training modules both internally and externally and a mentor for regular check-ins to put them on track for that promotion.”
With the new school year here, managers in education aren’t holding their breath. Joining forces with other industry experts has broadened the ability to solve problems and led to more transparency and efficiency within organizations. There is a common interest to return back to school in a safe matter. Having open discussions with teachers and administration allows for facility managers to best align their duties so that it doesn’t disrupt student learning.
The collective idea as a whole is stronger than any individual person. Coming together as a team, whether it be within a manager’s district or with outside peers, and bouncing ideas off others can garner the strength and trust that is needed to maintain a facility to the fullest.
Teamwork has motivated change and improvements in many school systems, making these facilities a better and a safer place for students. Every student deserves a high-quality seat as defined by excellent classroom instruction and an optimal learning environment. Collaborative experiences with other facility leaders, including those in the business sector and in other districts, foster novel ideas, affirm the possibility of innovative solutions, and can result in better cost management, says Jackson
“We are stronger together, we are resilient, we care and are empathetic, we are resourceful, and we are knowledgeable,” adds Willie T. Burroughs, director, management services, Council of the Great City Schools. “These characteristics provide the context for virtual table gatherings to discuss relevant issues in a forum that encourages participants to share varied approaches to address challenges.”
Mackenna Moralez is the associate editor of the Facility Market.