Case Histories (Real-World Solutions)
Schools Cut Costs, Generate Revenue
Great Valley School District is located near Philadelphia in Malvern, Pa., the district serves nearly 4,000 students. A maintenance staff of five maintains its eight buildings, which have a total area of 850,000 square feet. When Rich Krumrine, supervisor of Buildings and Grounds, started at the district in July of 2007, the district had recently purchased SchoolDude’s FSDirect for facility scheduling, but had not yet implemented it.
Challenges: When Rich took over, facility scheduling was a cumbersome and confusing paper process with no district-wide coordination. Communications between the schools and departments concerning cancellation of service calls or changes in room schedules were slow. Invoicing community groups to recoup costs was done on a very limited basis.
Solution: Rich was familiar with SchoolDude solutions because he had used them at another district. He first addressed the scheduling issues by using the already-purchased FSDirect. “With my prior knowledge of SchoolDude, it was very easy to get everyone to buy into the FSDirect implementation,” he says. He also recognized the need for additional solutions, so he purchased UtilityDirect for energy and utility tracking and MaintenanceDirect to automate the work order process. Using these solutions better met the district’s needs, saved his staff time and saved money in several ways.
Facilities Department: Facility scheduling is now streamlined across the district since the implementation of FSDirect. Each request goes through fewer people, who must approve them and post them to the calendar system. The system now automatically routes daytime and after-hour events to the custodial staff so they can set up the space.
Great Valley also uses FSAutomation to integrate the district’s HVAC system with FSDirect to automatically heat and cool spaces when they are in use. The custodial staff no longer spends time manually turning on and off the HVAC system for each facility space.
Rich successfully rolled out an invoicing process for the community, and has turned his facilities area into a revenue generator for the district. He added CommunityUse, SchoolDude’s calendar system for the public, which integrates with FSDirect to streamline community event scheduling. Community members can now look at a shared calendar to schedule available space and simply fill out an online form for reservations.
He structured competitive pricing for community use of school space to ensure the department recouped its costs. He created fee tiers based on the type of group, and marketed the spaces to various groups, encouraging them to rent spaces for their activities. The community’s reaction has been positive and facility usage has increased. “Over four years, our revenue went from $49,000 per year to now over $150,000,” says Rich.
A large portion of the revenue generated through facility rental is now being used for preventive maintenance and a capital planning fund for things like roof and boiler replacement.
Energy Department: Due to budget constraints and a growing focus on green initiatives, the district was concerned about its energy usage. Rich’s implementation of UtilityDirect allowed them to stay ahead of the curve by making it easier to identify where the district was spending the largest amount on utilities. By entering several of the past years utility expenses into the solution, and then using its capability to track current usage, it was easy to make year-to-year comparisons.
Rich and his team have identified the worst performers. For example, they realized that leaving the light in the parking lots on overnight was an expensive energy component. While this had been done to prevent vandalism, research indicated that lack of light can actually decrease vandalism because the vandals then need to bring their own light sources. Vandalism did not increase after they started turning the parking lot lights off at 11 p.m.
The district also created a behavior-based conservation program. Rich and his team showed students and staff ways to cut energy costs and set up an incentive program that gives 25 percent of the cost savings back to the school. This program, coupled with UtilityDirect has reduced the district’s energy usage by 26 percent.
Staying in line with the district’s goals for sustainability, Rich has also increased the district’s ENERGYSTAR ratings each year in each building by integrating ConserveDirect and UtilityDirect with ENERGYSTAR’s Portfolio Manger.
Conclusion: Though Great Valley’s maintenance department is small, it has successfully implemented multiple SchoolDude applications to streamline facility scheduling, energy tracking and maintenance. The department has brought significant cost savings and revenue to the district. “I show our board monthly reports and they have been very impressed with how much we have saved,” says Rich. “I am SchoolDude’s biggest fan. It provides me with fantastic product and service for an affordable price. Using SchoolDude for all of my needs is a no-brainer.”
This article originally appeared in the December 2014 issue of School Planning & Management.