School maintenance staff honored for its efficiency

WOODSTOCK – Recently named a Campus Champion by School Dude Inc., the maintenance department for Shenandoah County Public Schools has been recognized for its speed and skill at completing work orders.

More than 6,000 institutions nationwide use the North Carolina-based Web-based management product, but Shenandoah is one of only 154 chosen as a Campus Champion this year.

Supervisor of Maintenance Eugene Dykes enrolled the department with the service in June 2010 to give his staff needed structure in how they handled their work orders.

Before that, he said, “there was never anything in place.”

Teachers or staff would call the department for maintenance service, he said, “[but] there wasn’t a lot of structure to what the department used to do.”

Following the School Dude method, which stores data online in a cloud-like system accessible to member organizations, Dykes said he and his staff now follow a fluid, step-by-step process to learn of maintenance needs, assess a work request, assign a technician, reply to staff requesting service, follow up on continuing work and mark a job as completed.

Work orders can also be filed and retrieved by department trade, building location or the employee requesting services.

Shenandoah earned points on the number of work orders its employees completed in the last year and the number of hours they spent on work orders. Per employee, the department averaged more than 340 work orders, higher than the national average of 292 for School Dude’s top 20 percent of organizations. Shenandoah’s work rate of 30 hours a week for work orders also exceeded the national average of 24.

But numbers can be deceptive, and Dykes said the department’s 30 hours a week don’t account for sick time and holidays.

You wouldn’t know the department is understaffed since School Dude enable his staff to keep up with the needs of a 10-school district and its greater than a million square-feet of building space to manage.

“There’s a lot of divisions that don’t have work order systems, they do it the old fashioned way,” Dykes said. “I used to do it the old fashioned way too, but in today’s age, when you have to run a department as lean as we do … managing your time is paramount to what we do.”

He said it would be easy not to fill in all the form boxes, but they always do for the purposes of easily finding work orders in the database and helping Dykes review the orders to make sure one trade group, such as carpentry or electrical, isn’t inundated with work over another.

“We complete 74 percent of our work orders in less than a week,” Dykes said. The national average is 62 to 74 percent, he added. “The guys are just really good at it.”

Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com