Sonia Harguindeguy met her husband doing one of her favorite things: singing karaoke. The night they met happened to be a Friday the 13th with a full moon, but these strange facts couldn’t distract her from his singing voice. “He sings wonderfully, oh my gosh,” she laughed. “The rest is history.” They have now been married for eight years and live happily with their two dogs – Nairobi and Daisy.
While she likes to sing karaoke during her down time – some of her go-to songs include Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” and Donna Summers’ “Hot Stuff” – her day job involves overseeing facilities management for the Moreno Valley School District in California, which has 40 schools serving approximately 34,000 students. In some ways, the singing and her job aren't that different. Sonia is great at communicating, both in her downtime on the karaoke stage and in her role at work.
After starting off with the district in 2005 as a substitute janitor and working her way up through various positions, Sonia's landed in the pivotal role of Facilities Clerk for Maintenance and Operations.
During her 15-years with the district, Sonia has worked at a variety of schools, including high schools, middle schools and the registration center, but she enjoyed working at elementary schools the most. “I loved the kids,” she said. “Little kids are so beautiful and they would draw me pictures and I'd put them on my desk and it was so nice.” Sonia has raised four kids of her own and also has seven grandkids.
In her current job, Sonia gets to see a completely different side of the school system, the behind-the-scenes and after-hours operations that help it run. “I never even thought about it when I was working at school sites because you're so busy. Hats off to the people who work at the school sites – with the kids and with the parents. You know, it's a lot. And now I'm on the other side and I love it. I love it.”
One of the key parts of Sonia’s job involves the after-hours use and rental of school facilities. When she started the position, the systems being used for rentals were cumbersome, Sonia said, and required a lot of hand holding. Then the school district switched over to Facilitron, and Sonia said it has made her job much easier and streamlined the entire process.
“Facilitron is so much better than the old program,” she said. “I love that it's all centralized. Everyone can see it; everyone can access it 24 hours a day. It's so transparent and clear and all communication is done through the platform. So now it doesn't all fall on the use of facilities clerk. Now it's a team effort.”
Sonia still manages all incoming reservations for school facilities, but now she can act as the quarterback and doesn’t have to cover every other position.
“We are a big school district with a lot of facility requests, and the process is 100% better with Facilitron,” she said.
In the old system, Sonia said she had to make Excel spreadsheets to track charges for external groups and another one for internal groups. She was also fielding multiple emails and phone calls for every reservation rather than communicating on a single platform. “What used to require an hour now is boiled down to 10 or 15 minutes,” she explained.
As with any new system, there have been a few kinks to work out, primarily getting people to accept change, but Sonia’s catch phrase has served her well. “My favorite thing to say is ‘Let’s slay, chica.’ What I mean by that is let’s get it done. Let’s kill it,” she laughed.
So far, the catch phrase along with Sonia’s hard work and positive attitude have served her well. That, along with the snacks she keeps for sharing at her desk, have helped to get everyone on board with the new platform. “I love my job,” she said. “I’m very fortunate. And Facilitron is amazing. I mean, it's the perfect form of communication.”