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Frederick County (Md.) Public Schools 1
I am honored to reach out to you today and humbly submit our application for the Facility Maintenance Decisions Achievement Awards on behalf of Frederick County Public Schools located in Frederick, Md. As a proud member of our local community we have nearly 41,000 students, 5,650 employees, 66 schools, and over 6.5 million square feet under roof. As a Maintenance and Operations Department we strive each and every day to provide an optimal learning environment for students all across our system.
As the single largest land mass county in the state we have been challenged to empower staff at all levels of the organization to act in such a way as to support the needs of students. All Frederick County high schools rank in the nation’s top 11 percent for encouraging students to take challenging Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate tests, according to The Washington Post's 2015 Challenge Index. As a school system that promotes high achievement in our students we expect the same from our staff. In our constant effort to be better each and every day we have placed an emphasis on staff professional development.
The “problem” that we tackled was taking our support of student and staff needs to a higher level. Tying what M&O does directly to student achievement was a completely new way of thinking about what we do and we wanted a tangible way of making this connection.
We chose this particular course of action as outlined below because as an employer FCPS places a premium on the investment and development of staff. Our Board of Education feels so strongly about this aspect of what we do that when they were revamping our aspirational goals, having “effective and engaged” staff was one of the goals.
The “challenges” we faced along the way were quite diverse. One of the early ones was the nuts and bolts of funding these training initiatives. Finding not only the monies to pay for these offerings but also the opportunity costs of having staff away from their work sites sitting in a classroom was quite challenging. Another somewhat unexpected challenge was communicating to staffers, some of whom have been here for more than 30 years, the importance of this professional development. The idea that FCPS was investing in them personally and professionally, and that they hadn’t done anything “wrong,” was one that had to be sold. Once we got people moving it was easy to keep them moving along the road of growing.
The outcome was an overt connection between with what M&O does and student achievement. In these extremely challenging budgetary times, being able to tie what we do specifically to students was an important aspect of this entire process. Key stakeholders from both inside and outside the organization were able to see the value we in M&O bring to bear each and every day. Seeing the excitement in the eyes of colleagues as they took steps, some bit and some small, along the road to developing their own personal skillsets was something to behold. Watching staff appreciate FCPS for the investment in them and their growth was amazing.
Just a few examples of our professional development program are outlined below.
- International Facility Management Association (IFMA) Training: This year a group of twenty FCPS Maintenance and Operations leaders embarked on the IFMA Facility Management Professional (FMP) designation journey and now that we’ve come out our system is already reaping the rewards. Everything from a common language, the institution of a balanced scorecard to track quantifiable results, to a deeper understanding of what drives key decisions are all direct outcomes of our IFMA training. M&O leaders that participated have a much different appreciation for not only their work but the level of professionalism that our field demands. Our understanding from IFMA is that FCPS is the first public school system in the United States to send through as large a group of cohorts through the FMP process as we did. Jim Whittaker, Chairman of IFMA, came to FCPS and was one of our instructors and spoke to our Board of Education members about the value that our group of FMP’s created for the organization. This first group has been so successful that FCPS has begun the FMP process with an additional 22 emerging leaders within out ranks to further the commitment to growing our leaders from within.
- Maryland Board of Public Works: Executive Director of the Maryland BPW School Construction, David Lever, and his team made a visit to FCPS recently to commend us on our commitment to protecting the investment Maryland taxpayers have made in our schools by properly maintaining them. Our superior Maintenance and Operations Department is a model for other LEAs across the state to emulate. The State of Maryland has brought other Maintenance and Operations teams here to FCPS in order for us to share our best practices so students all across the state can learn in an optimal learning environment.
- SkillPath Training: The Maintenance and Operations team contracted with professional business training provider SkillPath to provide two full days of leadership and supervisory training to staff. We opened this up to all leaders, emerging/aspiring leaders, and anyone who just had an interest in growing their own personal skill set and we have nearly 170 total participants. From beginning supervisory skill development to conflict resolution the skills taught at these classes have proved invaluable to staff all across the system.
- Close The Loop: In an effort to take our student support to the next level we provided “Close The Loop” training to Maintenance and Operations leaders. This particular training focused on the importance of providing the person on the other end of the interaction the information they need when they need it and in the form they desire. Creating the awareness that when a school Principal is expressing concerns about the temperatures in classrooms telling them specifics about what is happening and when is critically important. If parts need ordered share that, share when you ordered them, share when they are expected to arrive, share when they actually arrive, share when the repair is going to take place, and finally share when the repair is complete and the final outcome. This might seem like a self-explanatory concept but it resonated with our team in amazing ways and has changed the way we do business.
- Peer To Peer Training: The feedback we have gotten through Survey Monkey from staff on the professional development offerings has been so overwhelmingly positive we are initiating a new Peer To Peer Training plan of action. We are actively providing opportunities for aspiring leaders to provide training to their fellow staffers. Putting people in a position to succeed, while at the same time making them stretch their skills sets, is proving to be extremely useful as well.
In closing, Frederick County Public Schools is worthy of consideration for your FMD Achievement Award in the Personnel Management category. The commitment we have made, and will continue to make, in our Maintenance and Operations staff and their professional development is unwavering. Our Superintendent, Dr. Theresa Alban, has created a fertile environment for staff to do their best work that translates into higher student achievement. Our entire professional development program is predicated on providing an optimal learning environment for students and nothing more.
Superintendent Dr. Theresa Alban
Chief Operating Officer Dr. Ann Bonitatibus
Executive Director Facilities Ray Barnes
Director Maintenance and Operations Bob Wilkinson
Curtis Orndorff Manager, Cluster Maintenance Program
John Carnahan Manager, Custodial Services