Beaverton School District facilities are the site of many community events and other after-hours functions. Located west of Portland, OR, the district identified the need to automate how facility users request and schedule space.
Kathy Gray, facility use coordinator for the school district, provides an overview of the decision to install and results.
By Facility Executive Staff
From the February 2017 Issue
Please give an overview of the type of facilities involved in this project.
Beaverton School District serves 41,000 students in 51 schools and is the third largest school district in Oregon. The district has more than 4,500 employees, including more than 2,600 teachers. The school buildings in our district are an important community resource with nearly 3,500 events taking place in these facilities each month.
What were the motivating factor and goals for this project?
From evening enrichment classes to concerts to group meetings, Beaverton School District’s facilities are used frequently for community events. Using a paper-based process to reserve facility space for our large school district was cumbersome for principals and difficult to track. We realized that we needed to address our facility scheduling inefficiencies. We decided upon a cloud-based collaborative event management offering from SchoolDude, called EventEssentials Pro.
After reviewing these processes, we knew we needed a more transparent way to communicate facility usage to all stakeholders. This would help ensure a smoother scheduling process and relieve additional burdens that were previously placed on school officials or the custodial staff under the paper-based system. The district also needed to address its reservation fee structure to make sure it was collecting the correct fees for facility usage.
To implement the new process, the district brought me on board, as well as facility use secretary, Jolyn Iboy, to manage the facility use reservation process full-time.
How did you research the options available in the market? And how did you arrive at the final decision?
Previous to working with SchoolDude, we had utilized another vendor for a short period of time that was unable to meet the needs of our large school district.
Through our next vendor evaluation process, we selected SchoolDude’s EventEssentials Pro because it was able to automate the facility scheduling process for internal and external groups, reduce staff time, and increase overall organizational efficiency. The solution also helped us eliminate any scheduling conflicts with a centralized events calendar. We can now maximize facility usage and efficiency with strategic room scheduling. We can also streamline invoicing and improve communication with community groups with online payments.
In early 2016, the district piloted the SchoolDude system in all of the high schools—the most used space for rentals. A successful pilot program led to district-wide use of the system shortly thereafter. With the launch, the district discontinued paper forms and now only accepts online requests. Community members have to submit event requests online and rental fees are non-negotiable.
How has the new facility scheduling system impacted how you and your staff do you work? For instance, did any facility procedures or policies need to be modified?
Individuals and community members must now go online to reserve our facilities. The requested times may not interfere with the district’s instructional programs, student athletics or activities, and school-related groups.
Utilizing an online form and changing the approval process makes facility scheduling faster and saves school principals a lot of time. The district also changed the fee structure based on visits with peer institutions. The new, tiered fee structure now charges more for fields and auditoriums versus classrooms. We are still early in the process, but the district expects to recover a majority of costs especially by recouping custodians’ overtime rates.
We built one online calendar for all departments, including maintenance, safety, athletics, facility use, capital projects, and others. For a district our size, this was critical. It has improved communication between departments; everyone has a transparent view of what is happening at the various facilities. For example, now other departments see that our facilities don’t shut down in summer with the thousands of events that take place per month. Maintenance and our facility use group work together to schedule planned maintenance around events, and the centralized calendar demonstrates what resources are needed for these events.
Additionally, we quickly realized a new online process for requesting facilities would not be successful without revised and strengthened policies, strategic messaging to the community, and ample support from community groups.
What have the results been?
Our facility scheduling process is more transparent and fluid than the previous paper-based system. We can now ensure that our classrooms, theaters, and fields are event-ready and that we have appropriate custodial staff on-site. SchoolDude’s EventEssentials Pro has also been a huge time saver, since event requests are centralized and automatically routed between our department and community groups.
Additionally, a united district leads to a more safe and secure district. The centralized event calendar has helped us not only to identify wear and tear on facilities and fields but also any unknown visitors. We can now look at the facility use schedule and show our School Board and taxpayers that we are using the buildings efficiently and are ensuring events are being appropriately staffed and protected.
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