School division reacts to audits and continues reorganization of operational departments

Chesterfield County Public Schools leaders continue to react to a series of internal audits that resulted in findings about operational performance and best practices, announcing yesterday further reorganization of the school division’s operational departments.

As part of a response to an internal construction audit last year, the superintendent directed that a construction management plan be developed to address the identified issues. Included in that plan was the creation of a chief operations officer position, designed to provide specific oversight to the operations side of the school division’s work. (Under the previous organizational structure, one senior staff member was assigned to oversee 1,000-plus employees working in budget, finance, planning, transportation, construction, facilities and maintenance and food services — creating one of the largest workplaces in the Richmond region.)

One of the chief operations officer’s first responsibilities was to review the work being done and develop a reorganizational plan that would yield more effective and efficient operations. Today, the School Board will receive recommendations designed to streamline operations, improve alignment and authority and reduce long-term costs.

The proposed reorganization combines the Facilities and Construction offices and includes a director of facilities, an assistant director for engineering and construction, an assistant director of support services and an assistant director of trades. Several existing Facilities positions (locksmiths, camera technicians, etc.) will be reallocated to the Security Department, while the Food and Nutrition Services office will assume oversight of several kitchen technician positions.

The overall recommendations will result in 30-40 fewer positions in the Facilities and Construction operations during the next two years. A reduction in supervisory positions, construction staff and facility personnel accounts for a significant portion of that. More importantly, the department will use a vertical maintenance program that should allow the department to implement a preventive maintenance program. With this program, maintenance work occurs at times that do not compete with instruction with multiple trades focusing on one building at a time for two to three days.

The school division will upgrade the current facility coordinator position to that of a building operations supervisor. The new building operations supervisor will report directly to the principal. The building operations supervisor position assumes much of the ownership of the emergency maintenance of a school building. The new position will be responsible for all current facility coordinator responsibilities, plus conducting quality control inspections of custodial work and environmental and occupational safety and health inspections of the building. In addition to streamlining operations and communication, the building operations supervisor position will provide school principals with greater authority over their schools and become the
on-site point of contact for ensuring that schools are maintained in a clean, safe and hazard-free manner.

The new organization will inject critical core competencies into the Construction Department. Those positions will oversee school revitalization efforts currently under way as part of the 2013 bond referendum. Construction management services are in the process of being procured for the four new schools that are being built as a part of the bond referendum.