Waco ISD Tells All

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Members of the maintenance and operations teams within educational organizations are constantly under pressure to request for more funds for various projects — for day-to-day operations, for future planning of your assets, and to ensure you have something kept aside for a rainy day.

Waco Independent School District had a long list of projects that needed funding. Watch this webinar where Alexander Villanueva, Director of Facilities & Maintenance talks about how his partnership with Brightly Software helped Waco ISD:

  • Pass a $355 million dollar bond for new school buildings
  • Provide data to increase insurance claim payout by $8 million after a disaster
  • Justify the creation of a new preventive maintenance team, including six new staff positions
  • Provide data to increase facilities budget five-fold in six years

Well, good afternoon and welcome to Brightly's Software webinar with Waco Independent school district. We're happy that you all joined us today for this very interesting discussion. Today, you will hear from Tim Bass sales director at Brightly Software and our guest Alexander Villanueva, director of facilities and maintenance at Waco Independent School District in Texas.

The floor is all yours, Tim.

Thanks, Shruti. And, thanks for all of our guests, who are in attendance today.

I'm excited, for the the story that Waco ISD and Alex have to tell today and and to share with fellow facilities professionals Alex Delinueva is the director of facilities and maintenance at Waco ISD.

We've gotten the pleasure to get to know Alex over the last several years and he is a true rising star in the facilities profession.

A little background Waco ISD.

Consists of about, twenty seven schools overall.

They serve fourteen thousand students roughly.

And and, over the twenty seven schools, they have about two point two million square feet, that that they maintain.

So with that, you know, first, Alex, I I wanna congratulate you, on your fast rise within Waco, independent school district.

You started as a project manager in twenty seventeen.

We're promoted to assistant director at facilities in twenty twenty.

And then to where you are now, director of facilities in twenty twenty two. Tell us a little bit about your journey. There wake up.

Okay. So, good afternoon to everybody.

So all of this started really in twenty seventeen, April. I applied for the position. I'm originally from Puerto Rico, born in New York, lived in Puerto Rico for about thirty five to forty years.

From there, I applied for the position. I looked at it online so that I was had some of the qualifications for it. So I did apply in April, May twenty ninth. I was already reporting for my first day at work.

Fell in love with Waco, had great things, offered great things. Team was great. I mean, when I got here, it was like, okay, I'm the new guy in town. You know, I have to really pick it up because they were they were really taking care of, of, of business. So they were handling work orders. They had already established a a pattern or a, work, type of system with the work order program that we had, It was not perfect, but we have had, school do it at the time since two thousand and three.

We started really using that, work order system more, towards, twenty fifteen, twenty fourteen.

When it was not only used for printing out work orders, it was, you know, they were capturing some of the data on it. From there, opportunities came by. But, like I said, the reason, you know, these, promotions kept, coming was really because of the great team that I work alongside. So, that's really, you know, the secret of all of that I'm sorry. I can't.

Sorry about that.

The, it's it's such a great story, and I appreciate you sharing. And and just like your story, you know Waco's facility department has also a a varying a credible story to tell over the last twenty years.

I know that they worked with, some of our more legacy solutions like maintenance direct PM Direct back in as as early as two thousand and three.

Worked with, us with events and energy and even some of the capital planning over the year.

You've recently made a transition to our modern CMS platform asset essentials.

Tell us a little bit about why Waco decided to make that switch.

Okay. So in twenty nineteen, we did assist to the, back then was School Duke University.

And I think that was the year that asset essentials was coming out that, that quarter. My my mistaken, it was presented to us. We did take a look at it. At the time, we were not really ready, to do that transition.

Years passed, and we'll get into a little bit more details of, you know, what that trip, you know, what we did accomplish with that, going to that event, that conference.

But when once we came back, you know, we looked at the, at the system that we had in place, her new, you know, chief of operations. One of the things that she really wanted to accomplish was to have a better streamline of information going back and forth, especially with the way that the old system, you needed to basically want it to be a requestor.

And a lot of the, weight was put on custodial, APs, the system principles, principles, and sometimes even the secretary was taking up that role of, okay, tell me what's wrong, and then, you know, we'll send out the work order. We'll create the work order. Well, the process was a little bit you know, slow, in, and what I mean slow is, you know, you could tell custodial, hey, my room is hot. You know, he turns around twenty people just, you know, meet him in the hallway. By the time he actually makes his way back to his office to sit down get on his computer, put the work order in, you know, an hour or two hours could have gone by, and you're still, you know, without the service. So that was one of the goals that we wanted to accomplish, once we, were looking into asset essentials just because it gives you that communication flow.

And also the reporting of it is, I mean, is incredible. You could actually filter what you want that report to look like, you know, the type of information and data that you're looking for, dashboard. So it it really, it was really an open system and means of communicating with the people that we serve, which is teachers and, and, you know, admin staff. So they know exactly when the work order has been assigned, when there's somebody that's in in progress, the work order, It has been dispatched. So once we looked at the system, it was really going to give us really the tools to accomplish what we wanted to, which was, you know, have a better response time and, you know, circle those that, you know, are the campus during the real work Yeah. You you mentioned in there, the incredible reporting and data.

You know, you you've have accomplished some incredible things during your time. Obviously, we mentioned the promotions earlier, but, like, things that you've actually accomplished that added value to the district themselves.

You know, one of those things, that sticks out to my mind is, is the work was done to secure a three fifty five million dollar bond for new school buildings.

Explain to us how, you're you and your your team were able to get that bond passed.

So really, you know, a bond requires a lot of building blocks. For it.

One is the facilities, condition assessment just because you have to have that initial conversation with whole stakeholders, explaining okay, these are the conditions of our buildings, but there's a lot of other things that, you know, take place So there's, you know, politics involved. There is, you know, conversations with the community. So there's a lot of things that really need to happen in order for bond, to be successful and to pass, the good thing was that everything else, you know, we took care of you know, a facilities condition assessment, all the hard work of, you know, talking to people, selling the bond was more on the, on our superintendent's side, She has already a lot of experience on that. So I'm glad that that was on her side and not ours.

But going back to the data. So in twenty nineteen, we did go to North Carolina. We were part of, a school Duke University at that point. And I remember that me and and Kevin Hayefer, he was a coordinator for maintenance at that time.

We traveled, we went to the conference, and we were, like, kids in a candy store with just ten cents, you know, like, okay. We want that. We want this. We want that other thing.

One of the things that really attracted our attention was, so we were collecting good data for labor and for, and for the equipment or materials that were used for, to addressing every single work order, but we were lacking you know, taking the actual work order and attaching it or making the connection with the actual asset.

So we were, yes, we were recording a lot of data, but we were not really tracking the systems and the work that was done.

So we looked at at the service and at that option. It really, you know, caught our attention when we came back to Waco, the first thing we had was a conversation with our CFO at that point.

And basically told her, hey, listen, we want to accomplish this. You know, we really, you know, here's the quote for it. Here's what we need.

And, you know, It's gonna cost us a hundred dollars, but we have a quarter. You know, can you, you know, help us out and just, budget the rest of the funding that we need to accomplish it? Well, You know, the way that we sold it was, here's the benefits to it. I think every single time you have a need or you want to really accomplish something, you really have to let the stakeholders, know what the benefit is and hold yourself accountable to it.

It's not just you know, selling point where, well, we're gonna get all these things, and we're gonna do all these wonderful things, and then be like, okay, we got it, but we, you know, it's too much work. We're really not not gonna engage on that. So once we had the, the facility's condition assessment done, we had the reports. Remember that that year, there was talk like I said, in the past, when our superintendent came on board, one of the things and her goals was she looked at the facilities and said, we need to improve.

That was one of her goals to, we really need to go off for a bond to address all these things because we can't handle that type of, you know, budget impact, as it is. So, we had that data in place. We had all the inventory of our assets, so we had that initial building block that was needed to starting engaging with the conversation of, okay, here's the condition of our buildings, you know, the accurate condition of our buildings. It wasn't, not only were, you know, yeah, our buildings are old.

Everybody knew that, but really didn't you know, have the extent data at that point to really engage in those conversations. And here's the reason why At one in one side, you're telling, you're telling people, hey, you know, our buildings really need to improve, but on the other side, you're telling them, Well, our maintenance crew is really good and we're maintaining our buildings. So you see, there is sometimes people listen to that and it's like a contradiction of, okay, where you're telling me that we need to replace them to replace those, but you're telling me that your team is, you know, or the team that you have, is really that good at maintaining buildings. So why would we need to replace?

So that really allowed to engage in those conversations than COVID hit.

And, you know, it was a really a big hit.

Because we went from, okay, we're gonna have these meetings and we're gonna gauge the community to, okay, you can't talk to anybody. You can't even look at them. That point because really people did not know, you know, the extent of what COVID was, you know, how to really, get COVID was like, don't look at it. Don't look at anybody that's contagious. Don't, you know, basically that connection was taken off. So that We started engaging online, and there was not a bigger, you know, big screen to basically hold everybody that was in those It was just, I mean, like, crazy, but the information was flowing.

You know, the accurate information, the honest conversations were were happening from, from our leaders, and they were engaging with the, the community. They were telling them, hey, listen. Here's, here's what's, what's going on. Here's what we need.

And we were there were only a few bonds that passed that year. We were one of the lucky ones. I really do want to believe it was a lot of the information and how it was, related to the community.

So we did pass that, that bond, and we're currently, working. We already finished one middle school, and the construction department has done a great job on it.


We delivered a a middle school in record time Now they're working on Tenison middle school, Wakele High, Kendrick Elementary, and South Waco, we're doing an extender of remodeling, to that building.

That's awesome. Congratulations. And and I hear it every day, Alex. The that the data coming from a third party, facilities consulting firm is so powerful because it helps clearly articulate the need in an unbiased way to, you know, it arms your superintendent your, your, your, business managers, your CFOs with the information, the data they need to take it to the community, to take it to your funding source, and and and display an accurate picture of, hey, this is this is what we are, and this is this is what we need and why we need it. And by having that real data it just, it just creates a a really compelling ask and and the com communities typically respond to to good data.

So thanks for sharing that.

Probably one of the most impressive things that I found about your story, Alex, is You guys were able to increase an insurance claim by eight million dollars. Like, there was an event the insurance company came back and said, alright, this is what we're gonna provide. And you guys said, no. Absolutely not. And you were able to increase their their payback eight million dollars. Tell Could you tell us a little bit about, like, maybe a little bit of the details about how that happened?

Yeah. So that was, that was a big hit. We had invested some money, some funds into that school, because we wanted to to look, you know, nicer. We wanted it to be a a really good atmosphere for our kids and forest staff So we were, you know, replacing doors. We had change out, some, you know, a lot of aesthetics, you know, the bathroom. So we had done a lot of, you know, work, to beautify that campus paint.

And I remember when I get a call around three o'clock in the morning, I, well, I get a text. Hey, I could be there in in an hour.

And, you know, it was an odd text to get at that time. So I'm looking at the text. And then all of a sudden, I hear the news that, you know, that school was up in flames.

So, two weeks before school, so you can, you know, imagine the, the chaos in my mind, which, you know, it's basically going a hundred miles per hour because I'm heading to Carver at three o'clock, three o'clock in the morning.

Just thinking, okay, you know, what are we gonna do? You know, school is, like, two months from, from that, two weeks from now.

What is it that we're going to do? So once I get to the school, I find a superintendent there, and I remember we were walking to her, to her car, And, you know, and she's saying, well, everything's gonna be fine, you know, and and this is what we're thinking, and this is a plan, and everything's gonna be fine. And, you know, I just nodded my head like, yeah, we're, you know, we're gonna do it. But, you know, once she got on her car and turning around, I'm like, yeah, how are we going to do?

So, you know, we started engaging with community.

The city helped out a lot. The community rallied you know, behind us. And, you know, we got kids into a campus, within two weeks. You know, we installed two portables. I mean, it just went a hundred miles per hour, but we got it done. And kids were, in school, for the first day school, we did not you know, delay the start. It was on time.

From there came, you know, the hard part. Okay. Now we have to deal with, you know, fire, you know, going through the claim. That point, I had some experience with claims, so there was more hail claim.

And that's sort of, of, type of situations.

So we started grabbing the data, and I started looking into it. Okay. What do I have to accomplish So there were a few things that we needed to do.

And I really wanted to have an estimate, a replacement estimate on my side.

We do have a great relationship with our insurance company. They did a lot of good work.

So they brought in an estimator, that went, you know, through the buildings. In my case, I went with our data and I started recreating spaces that were no longer there, with the systems that were there, the building type, the years it was built, you know, the amount of cost that would, take in order to replace the building, the sections that were burned, because the school was not burned totally to the ground. It was probably fifty to sixty percent of the building. So the gym was still remaining. It was a back hallway, hallway of classrooms that was still there.

So we started, you know, engaging in those conversations. And I remember the first one, the first estimate that came in was around, I think, thirteen point five, if I'm not mistaken.

But we started including other things We started engaging with the, with the, insurance.

And we started, okay, what are we allowed know, based on the contract that I, you know, the agreement that I started reading says that we're allowed, you know, to any type of expenditure on the maintenance side as long as we have it, you know, we have the data collected. We can know, submitted in the claim. So we started, basically, including all the labor and materials that, we had invested in order to get the school ready. In order to, clean out, the remains of the building securing the area. So we started logging all those hours, all those materials and it was included. Just that alone, I believe, was roughly a little bit over fifty thousand dollars, but we were able to provide the data because we actually had, you know, the work order system, and we had the systems that were there. So we went through that we started submitting, you know, our claim.

We said, hey, listen, this is really, you know, the amount.

They were a little bit surprised because typically it's not it's not typical for them to walk in, you know, to a school district and for them to be told, hey, listen, I got my quote. Here it is, and here's the reason why, and we went through it, all the data was there. So they actually at the end, they agreed on the final pay out amount. And that helped us, you know, rebuild or build a new school adding those funds to the, to the bond?

Yes. If I'm having that data, if I'm having a complete asset register, you guys were able to, kinda, kinda provide data to say that, hey, now that this this is actually more an accurate reflection of of what, you know, is gonna take to get back to to to where we were. So that's that's that's incredible.

Look, everyone on this call, can relate to having limited staff.

Again, another powerful piece of your story is like you were actually able to convince leadership to invest in in a new preventative maintenance program, which included six new members.

Quickly, like, how, like, how did you get leadership to invest in preventative maintenance and, and six new head caps Well, it it's really we go back to, you know, one, having the honest conversation, and, you know, the one thing with our CFO is, you better have all your ducks in order. If you don't, she's gonna start asking questions. And if she sees that you hesitate or you don't have, We'll go back once you have that all the information, then come back and we'll have a conversation. So, once we collect all the data, everything was inside, was it within the system, the PM schedule was created.

So once that PM schedule was created, it gave us the amount of hours that we needed to actually, be able to provide that service and to be more proactive on that side.

So in the past, the PM was, okay, whenever we have staff available, then we'll start doing PMs.

And PM work was done. Don't don't get me wrong. It was done. It was just not a designated department with staff just for that purpose.

So we, again, spoke with a CFO.

She took that to leadership, explained about These are the amount of hours that we actually need. Here is the amount of staff that we would actually needed. We were to do all these PM, work orders But we can start with these, these positions right now, and we can improve the health, you know, the overall, you know, health index of the of the, the district. So we started moving into being more proactive in that matter.

And we started seeing, you know, how it work orders, that before were an issue started to, you know, go down. The same thing with, the control systems. So they started looking, you know, at the units and at through the control system, Just verify, okay, do we have an issue? Is there a temperature issue on one of the schools?

Okay. I see it. It's not a control, so it's a mechanical issue. So we have to basically get to the school before it starts.

They were coming in at seven o'clock in the morning. They still do, and monitoring everything throughout the district. So we started, you know, rolling on that mentality of extending the life cycle of our equipment, and we got the positions.

That's great.

Alex, I feel like I could talk to you all day. Your story is just incredible and and what you have done within the Waco, school district is is just very powerful.

I hope it's work that you're you're very proud of because that you have made a significant impact.

I do wanna open the floor up for for questions for Q and A. If anyone has any for Alex.

And I will start with, Okay. So this one's more along the lines of some change management. So, Alex, how did you get buy in from your staff to learn a new system? And and also, second piece of that mobile application. Like, how did you get them go from paper to mobile?

Okay. That's a really good, question. First of all, any accomplishment that that you see, that you're hearing right now is because of the team. I just want to reiterate that because it's, if If you don't have a great team working alongside you, you're really not going to be able to to accomplish anything.

So I just want to give their kudos because they're really, I mean, I would have more gray hair. They were not here. So, saying that, so the one thing is, really is being honest, is talking about, okay, what is it going to, you know, how are we going to improve? So we did go mobile.

So we did, hand out Chromebooks to every single of our techs. So everybody has their, computer touchscreen.

So they can go out. They can close out work orders. They could put in the information right there. At first, it was a it was a challenge, especially since, You know, when we were going through the implementation process, I started, okay, we're not we can't close out a work order until we have all these fields.

You know, with added information.

So, you know, it wasn't a thing of we were not letting anybody, you know, bypass or, well, I'm not going to put this in or So, you know, the whole process of closing out a work order it started changing, just because, you know, we were used to a system that we were using since, like I said, two thousand and three. Think it was a benefit. At first, you know, there were some pushback as well, you know, we've been doing it for twenty years. Why, you know, why do we have to change it?

You know, which is you know, typical, you know, I'm gonna be wrong. I'm I've even, you know, been a little bit, you know, I I even given a little bit of pushback sometimes with changes, but it was having that honest conversation. Okay. Here's, here's the reason why.

It is going to make us better. It is going to improve us we just need to everybody has to stick together and we just have to hold everybody accountable. So that was, I think, the major thing, and they started seeing the, the changes and the improvements.

And for anyone in the audience, there's a Q and a section within the the webinar platform here. So you guys can drop your questions. If we don't have time to get to this today, we will follow-up and make sure your questions get answered. By Alex afterwards.

Question here is, Alex, if you had to give one piece of advice, for a district looking to up their game, from a facility standpoint, but they feel like, there's just not enough funds.

I think we can all relate to it, the feeling that there's just not enough funds to properly fuel facilities What piece of advice would you provide to those people on the call today?

Well, the one thing that I would always say is look at industry standards.

Not not because we can get sometimes to that point, but you could use it as a benchmark to really see, okay, Where are we, where do we need to get? You know, at least you have to really detail that road map of how do you get there? There's a lot of limitations that school district have. Doesn't matter which state you're from. This came from a conference, you know, different states in there, different school districts, You know, there was a lot of struggles.

Funding was, you know, a common, issue, but is you have to do something. You have to be intentional of doing something. And I know that sometimes funding is not available. For us, you know, we, we have partnered with the Britley, and, you know, we were fortunate to get the funding for it.

But for somebody that doesn't really is not there yet. Every single time, there's a vision or there is, a plan put in place. The first thing that's gonna come up is, is a, is I need. You know, how do I accomplish, you know, the vision?

So it's really if you have to start with a spreadsheet, and just knowing what you have in the district, the condition, create something, you know, go out there, you know, be intentional about it, You know, I know that sometimes we're like, well, I don't have either the resources or the time. Well, make up the time, you know, implement something doesn't have to, you know, if you don't have funding for a software and all you have is a spreadsheet, well, then let me, let me put a list of my assets. Let me, let me create something that I could prove on that, you know, with the, with the resources that I have right now, okay, with a spreadsheet, this is what I accomplish.

Now just imagine what I can accomplish, they actually had a software to back me up.

So I think that's the biggest thing is see the resources that you have and get good at it, you know, just just try to just you know, get buy in from once you start going that route, people are gonna follow. And, you know, you're gonna get credibility when you ask for something.

That's great. Thank you.

Last question that I see, and we can make it a quick one. How hard was the implementation process to upload all the data needed?

Okay. Well, we already had, you know, we had done one in twenty nineteen. I mean, we did a a recent one just to update.

It takes time. I'm not gonna lie. There's a lot of, moving pieces.

You know, you're gonna get the data.

You know, third party comes out and collects everything. You know, it's always good to have him walk with somebody that has knowledge of your buildings just because they're gonna tell you, hey, well, you know, this building was built, you know, and this changed, like, three names. And, you know, the water comes here, and we this issue here, and, you know, and, and they give them the feedback of, of, of that building.

Once that collection, the data was collected, then it was put in, in a way that we could actually go through it and, and really see, okay, I don't like the name that was included on this, on this type of system or the way that you're labeling it, you know, I want that number to be x because I want that system, and I'm gonna go back to the HVAC just because that's majority of the components or building assets that you have are those.

Well, I want it to be identified as it would in the control.

So I don't have to be, you know, trying to decipher which, which one is which.

So you start just engaging, and you start building it in a way that really makes sense to you.

Not necessarily everybody else, but it makes sense to you and it works for you and your team.

So it at one point, it's it's time consuming when you're trying to build it up.

But afterwards, I mean, it's the payback is, like, you would do it again. Doesn't matter. You know, once you're seeing the results, you'd be like, man, if I had to do it, you know, three or four times over, I would have done it. So That's awesome.

Well, Alex, thank you again so much for sharing your story.

To the audience, thank you for being in attendance today, and to to learning more from, from a true pro within the industry.

You know, if you'd like to learn more, feel free to, to connect with Brightly on on LinkedIn or Alex on LinkedIn. And, you, again, you can drop questions here in the platform that we're happy to answer for you afterwards.

Alex, thanks again. We appreciate you being such a a great strategic partner with us. And, to everyone, we hope you have a great day and, you know, look forward to connecting with you all in the near future.

Bye. Thanks.