Innovative School Business Officials Make the Grade

After the last school bell rings, many people are still hard at work to make sure our children are safely educated in American schools. School business officials are the behind-the-scenes finance professionals who make sure the resources available for educating students are used effectively and efficiently. The Association of School Business Officials (ASBO) is an association that supports school business professionals who are passionate about quality education. We recently attended regional ASBO events and presented a webinar to showcase our solutions.

An Inside Look at Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO)’s Annual Conference

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By Meredyth Westmoreland, Procurement Marketing Coordinator at Gordian

Hershey, Pennsylvania was a treat! Not only were we greeted with chocolate bars (which were delicious) but also because of the amazing new connections we made alongside our local cooperative purchasing partner, Keystone Purchasing Network (KPN). While student and staff safety is the top priority for any school, there is not always money to put that priority into action. Thanks to the PA Senate Bill 1142, school business officials in Pennsylvania are preparing their facilities to mitigate risks and vulnerabilities.

Across the country, schools are taking advantage of ezIQC®, a fast and flexible way to buy construction services at competitive prices. With access to local contractors through cooperative purchasing networks, like KPN, competively awarded prices are established upfront, eliminating the need to bid each project separately. These contracts allow you to streamline the procurement process to get the work done quickly, so your school is safer, faster. See how you can access ezIQC® in your state to fast-track construction projects.

Gordian at PASBO 2019 Annual Conference

An Inside Look at Texas Association of School Business Officials (TASBO)’s Annual Conference

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By Mary-Neil Jackson, Events Manager at Gordian

It was great to engage with school business officials from across the state of Texas at the recent TASBO Annual Conference in San Antonio. We always appreciate hearing about the work these unsung heroes are doing every day. School board officials are tasked with keeping school facilities safe, up-to-date and ready to respond to emergency situations.

Our team has had the privilege to work with Rick Gay, Director of Purchasing at Spring Branch Independent School District. Rick has been a business official for over 20 years and has saved taxpayers over $70 million. We got to visit with Rick in San Antonio and reflect on some of his most memorable experiences throughout his career, including emergency response after Hurricane Harvey. The hurricane left part of Texas under 33 trillion gallons of water. However, by using Job Order Contracting, Gay’s school was able to minimize the impact on the floors and enabled students to get back to school and back to normal quickly.

Gordian at TASBO 2019 Annual Conference

What We Learned: How to Beat the Heat of the Summer Construction Time Crunch

As summer approaches, temperatures rise, students become restless and parents brace for vacation plans. Schools begin bracing for plans as well – summer construction projects that are high priority and fall on tight schedules. Tackling lists of overdue maintenance projects, safety upgrades and school renovations comes with the challenge of completing the work before staff and students return and without breaking the district’s bank. In order to streamline work in the summer months, schools can follow the best practices below to ensure happy students, teachers and district leaders.

Prioritize and Plan Holistically

Identifying priority projects early in the school year is key to kicking off projects on time once break rolls around. Keeping a rolling list of issues and having them all laid out in front of you makes it easy to narrow projects down to the highest-priority items. Getting feedback from the people who spend their days in the trenches also offers great insight. Teachers and individual school leaders may have different ideas on what could make a larger impact on their school. Safety and health concerns should be addressed first, with functional and cosmetic upgrades coming next.

Assemble Top-Notch Teams and Processes

Next comes the challenge of procuring the materials and services to make these upgrades. Facing the summer time crunch and district budget restrictions adds pressure. A process that used to take months just to price out can instead be completed in a few weeks’ time when using a Job Order Contracting (JOC) method. Once it is clear that JOC methods are approved per district purchasing guidelines, schools can kick off the process with confidence they will complete their list before summer’s end. Local contractors who are ready to work can be your school’s biggest ally. By working closely, contractors and school leaders are enabled by JOC to communicate openly and clearly regarding any changes that may need to be made.

Reap the Benefits of Summer Construction

Once projects wrap and students are back in the hallways, the benefits of summer construction projects are clear. Bill Alcorn, Superintendent of Haskell CISD in Haskell, TX, notes how school improvements boosted morale among students and teachers in their elementary school. In addition to better moods, students also behaved better – tile floors laid carefully meant clearer line-following and an easier day for teachers. Safety and health improvements can also be tackled over summer recess, with anything from new main entry doors and glass being installed to old, moldy floors being replaced.

To find out more about how JOC enables schools to complete summer projects on time and on budget, watch our on-demand webinar.