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On the Ground with Facilities Leaders

By Jeffrey Shields posted 6 days ago

  

CEO Notebook |

Our facilities colleagues have a lot to teach us. Bring them to the decision-making table sooner rather than later.

Jeffrey Shields, FASAE, CAE
NBOA President and CEO

Makerspaces, building renovations, sustainability, perhaps the old debate pitting artificial turf against natural grass … I traveled to Kansas City recently to learn about these kinds of topics affecting educational facilities. I came away with so much more.

The event was EDSpaces: The Future of Education Facilities. It was sponsored by the Education Market Association and was designed to give facilities officers (both public and private preK-12 education) insights into current issues related to education delivery. I went with some of NBOA’s most active facilities officers, and we all brought our own interests involving where the pedagogy happens: how the spaces are constructed, along with the desks, chairs, shelves, audio-visual tools and open space that will fill them. It was an enjoyable experience on many levels, but I was most appreciative of what I heard and learned from our facilities colleagues.

NBOA at EDSpaces
At EDSpaces conference: Joe Walsh and Bob Meals from The Shipley School, Mike Willis from Greenhill School, Nick Mirisis of SchoolDude (NBOA Board of Directors), and Jeff Shields and Chris Kalavsky from NBOA

First, facilities directors understand and value their relationships with business officers, a sentiment that that business officers reciprocate. Both groups know that our schools’ buildings and grounds are taking on increasing importance. Today, our physical plants often serve as proxies for the high-quality education housed within. In the years ahead, these significant investments will become more strategic components of our plans to combat competitive market forces — even as we completely re-imagine them, in some cases. Strong partnerships between business officers and facilities directors will help schools make the best choices.

Second, when it comes to these critical choices, facilities directors have a unique perspective. They both want and deserve a bigger “seat at the table,” particularly during the design phase of new buildings.

I’m supportive of the big dreams that boards of trustees and their architects have for new and innovative buildings, but I’m the person who has to maintain them. I have ideas how to do that well and affordably. But, this can’t be done after the fact.

EDSpaces attendee

“I’m supportive of the big dreams that boards of trustees and their architects have for new and innovative buildings, but I’m the person who has to maintain them,” as one colleague shared. “I have ideas how to do that well and affordably. But, this can’t be done after the fact.” PreK-12 facilities directors want unique buildings that align with their schools’ unique missions — so let’s invite them to interact and share insights early in the process.

Another key takeaway for me, as NBOA’s president and CEO, was that facilities directors want more opportunities for interaction with business officers, architects and each other. I was pleased to hear that they appreciate the opportunities NBOA provides through the Facilities Community on NBOA Connect as well as our face-to-face events. And I am motivated to serve them even better going forward.

Follow NBOA President and CEO Jeff Shields @shieldsNBOA.
From Net Assets NOW, December 5, 2017. Read past issues of CEO Notebook.
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