In the spotlight: Ralph Caravello
Ralph Caravello is the risk management & workers comp coordinator for Seminole County School Board in Florida. Ralph is a Chicago native, a United States Navy veteran, a proud Bears fan and a valued district partner with over a decade of experience in the safety and training industry. Ralph Caravello is the unsung hero of Seminole County School Board in Florida, championing safe, modern and well-maintained facilities for students and community members.
Ralph’s Take on Bringing Facilitron to Seminole County, Florida:
What were you looking for in a facilities management solution?
We were looking for user-friendly software that would work for our team. But beyond that, we needed an ongoing support system, which can be difficult to find. The Facilitron team traveled across the country to Florida to introduce us to the platform and their dedication to getting to know our district so personally spoke volumes about what would eventually become an incredible working relationship. That on-site meeting demonstrated just how much the Facilitron team believes in their system and they had the expertise to back it up. For every question I raised, Facilitron offered a solution. After that meeting, Seminole County’s decision to work with Facilitron was a no-brainer.
How did you first hear about Facilitron?
Discovering Facilitron was a lucky coincidence. I was new to my role here at the Seminole County School Board and embroiled in the process of vetting a software solution to manage and organize the district’s facility lease agreements. I was in discussions with another company and speaking with our CFO about how to accommodate the cost of that program, when my supervisor handed me a magazine ad for Facilitron. I felt reluctant to start the vetting process over again, but Facilitron offered its platform free to our district. I’ll admit that I was skeptical at first, but within days of my contacting Facilitron, they had their top marketing representatives on their way to Seminole County to meet with me in-person. By the end of those discussions I realized that the services they were offering were incomparable.
What were the primary facilities management concerns your district faced?
Before Facilitron, Seminole County lacked district-wide consistency and policy adherence. When I came on board, with 60+ schools in our district, different processes existed at each school with a lack of standard operating procedures across the county. At the district level, our team was only aware of about 40% of approved rental requests, because schools were tasked with managing those requests at an individual level relying on pen and paper scheduling systems. There were lease agreements that weren’t being correctly channeled to the district for review and rental requests were falling through the cracks. As risk management & workers comp coordinator, the task of overseeing districtwide lease requests was solely my own. There was a lack of risk management oversight within the facilities management programs and many departments didn’t understand the liability issues associated with incorrect insurance documentation. The more we investigated, the more we realized that our district needed help.
What are the top three benefits Seminole County has gained in using Facilitron?
First, using Facilitron has simplified the rental process in Seminole County and freed up time for our staff to focus more of their time on students and teachers. Facilitron’s platform empowers Seminole County School Board to identify, track and address any potential risk exposures to help keep our schools safe. The administrative burden that our schools formerly dealt with from a risk perspective was enormous. Before Facilitron, our district issued certificates of insurance when public groups rented space within our buildings, but school administrators are not insurance experts and that lack of expertise can leave a district vulnerable to liability. Facilitron handles this part of the lease agreement process and lifts this burden from individual schools and employees to ensure our schools, students and faculty are fully protected and our administrators can rest easy. Now, administrators can simply approve inbound rental requests and Facilitron handles the rest of the process.
Secondly, Facilitron has attracted new renters to our buildings. With transparent scheduling and online access to the reservation request system, community members can log into the platform to view available facilities for specific dates and times. That access to scheduling has produced additional revenue because of the increased community access.
Lastly, Facilitron allows Seminole County School Board to have one central system for managing our money and rental policies across the entire district. One immense benefit of that updated policy is the increased access to utility fees within our facility rentals. By failing to charge renters for the utility costs associated with their reservations, we were increasing that burden on our district funds. The new rental fee structure offsets the cost of our electric bill– which averages $13M in electrical utilities annually– and frees up additional funds to go back into our schools as a result. We’ve also introduced a standard cancellation policy, which helps us demand a higher level of accountability for the renter; last minute rental cancellations occurring within 72 hours result in a partial refund, and cancellations made within 24 hours aren’t eligible for reimbursement. This has been a game-changer for our district, incentivising groups to follow through with their reservations and allows us to re-advertise any spaces that open up to secure another renter and avoid lost revenue.
Has championing Facilitron benefited you in your role?
Using Facilitron has resulted in total oversight of our internal and community renters. It has certainly made my job as risk management & workers comp coordinator easier and more organized. Beyond that, Facilitron has added an element of transparency between our district and the community that was truly needed. The Seminole County School Board does not exist to dictate what individual schools can and cannot do; we are here to keep an eye on external and internal renters, assist with risk management and support schools in meeting student needs. Faclitron is a valuable tool in managing every concern from potential risk exposures to scheduling safe and efficient HVAC maintenance. Facilitron puts everything on the table with our scheduling processes and nothing is hidden from the community, the district, or its schools. That element of transparency promotes equal facility access within the community.
Was it challenging to gain community support for Facilitron in Seminole County?
The community pushback was very minimal. When we introduced Facilitron, most community members were excited about renting facilities through the online platform, without having to go out to a school, meet with the scheduling staff and fill out a paper application. Initially, some organizations expressed concerns over cost increases, as these groups were formerly being charged a reduced rate that was not compliant with policy or fair to other renters. We needed our facility usage fees to be both fair and competitive, so we reviewed the average pricing at five different school districts in our area to keep our fees below the average. Today, our facility rentals provide extra revenue for the schools and at the same time provide the public with the opportunity to utilize our facilities at a fair price.
When we save or recoup funds through Facilitron, that money is spent on improvements to school buildings and resources, athletic programs and extracurricular offerings for the kids. The recouped funds benefit our students in real ways every day; Seminole County School Board has used available funds to purchase uniforms for our sports teams, pay for school building renovations and invest in resources to support student success. For us at Seminole County, that is precisely what our relationship with Facilitron has done overall– it has allowed us to give back to the school and community in new ways every day, and that’s truly at the heart of what it means to be a school administrator.
This profile series highlights the great work our district partners are doing in their schools and communities and how Facilitron helps support their success. In each post we sit down with a different district partner from across the country to talk about their background and experience with Facilitron, and get to the heart of the issues that matter in their community– all while having some fun. Bringing the stories, struggles and triumphs of our district partners to the forefront, we’ll explore what makes these community leaders go above and beyond to become Facilitron Famous.