(SACRAMENTO, CA) February 23, 2018 – Los Gatos Superintendent Dr. Diana Abbati will be a presenter at the Coalition of Affordable School Housing Conference in Sacramento on February 27, 2018. Dr. Abbati is leading a session on facilities management called “Creative Solutions to Facility Use” as a part of a larger discussion entitled “Examining Various Property Use Strategies to Make Your School Sites Work for You.”
Public school districts face many challenges when sharing facilities with various community stakeholders, especially when those challenges are based on long-standing but out-of-date agreements coupled with lack of information on field and building use. In Los Gatos, the district came to the rescue of the Town’s fledgling recreation organization in the 1970s by providing infrastructure such as athletic fields, gyms, and classroom spaces at little to no cost for after school programs for youth, adults and seniors. As the years went on, the growth of the community and success of recreational programs resulted in increased usage of these fields, gyms and classroom spaces while at the same time, the burden of the resulting increase in maintenance cost and wear fell on the district. As the decades passed, the district remained 100% responsible for facility maintenance and upkeep, yet had ceded a great deal of control of those facilities to community partners, and had no tools to control or even measure how much of the wear and tear was attributable to the community. Districts all over the country face similar challenges, not just with city recreation leagues, but other community groups who expect school facilities to be fully accessible at discounted rates with little or no understanding of the costs involved with upkeep, maintenance and replacement.
With the passing of the California Civic Center Act in 2014, Los Gatos Union School District Superintendent Dr. Diana Abbati saw an opportunity for the district to begin reclaiming reasonable costs associated with public use of school facilities and grounds, while at the same time continuing its long tradition of providing important community assets for Los Gatos. However, after the successful construction of new and modernized facilities, the district faced a number of new challenges which included: (1) limited personnel to manage the facilities; (2) increased costs and demand from competing community groups; (3) and increased utilization without the information needed to track reservations and costs.
The solution for improving the management of district facilities started when Dr. Abbati met with Jeff Benjamin, CEO of Facilitron, who offered a cloud-based system that tracked all district facility usage. The benefit of such a system was that it provided operational intelligence on school, community and maintenance requests, all while ensuring compliance and helping to limit district liability. Facilitron provided utilization reports that provided new insight and helped the district manage the balance between school and community use as well as to properly allocate recovery costs. This new level of transparency and understanding allowed the district to move forward with plans to revise policies and fee structures while working with community partners to arrive at a common understanding of the costs associated with maintaining school facilities.
In California, where land use is expensive and limited, public school districts are community assets for youth, adult and senior recreational programs. We know that safe school facilities have a major impact on the health and wellness of student achievement. With the passing of the California Civic Center Act in 2014, districts are afforded the ability to protect the community’s investment by incorporating fees to ensure school facilities and grounds are safe, in good repair, and in good working order for youth and community activities.