Insite Blog

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An Insurance Policy for School Districts

Posted by Steve Harper on Jun 28, 2018 10:00:00 AM

Imagine you are the Superintendent of a medium-sized school district. Your entire career has been dedicated to creating the very best learning environment for your kids. One that is safe, secure, and ensures that students, teachers, and staff have facilities they can be proud of.

 

As your community grows, so does the needs of your district. Every year there is mounting pressure to maximize school budgets, upgrade facilities and add capacity by building more schools.

 

Every year it seems like it’s a fight with the school board and community to get the support you need to keep up with the demand. Budgets are stretched super thin and the district is barely keeping up with all the projects it has going on.

 

This has been your battle for years and you don’t ever see it getting any better.

 

A few years ago, you oversaw one of your district’s largest successful bond elections in decades. You fought hard to get your community’s approval to finally address your student population growth. You were successful in getting the bond passed which led to the building of two new elementary schools –– something that was desperately needed.

 

At the time, going through the process of building a new school, let alone two, was new to you. You had never been through this type of construction, so you had little understanding of what to expect. The district hired an architect and a project manager to oversee the entire process. You felt confident they were the right partners on an overwhelming task ahead.

 

They helped you select the right contractors and subs. They seemingly helped you navigate all the important design decisions and unexpected challenges that arose during the construction phase. You felt confident that they were managing the project for you and of course had the district’s best interest at heart.

 

When both schools were done they were magnificent. Everything you could have hoped for and then some. Your school board was proud, and your community was over the moon with praise and support for what you had built for them.

 

The process wasn’t nearly as painful as you thought it was going to be. When you did your final walkthrough, you beamed with pride with what you were placing into service for your students and staff.

 

At closeout you received a bunch of paperwork. It seemed like 100 pounds of binders at the time. You couldn’t make hide nor hair of what was in them. It seemed like a bunch of disorganized construction documents that you had no clue about it. You paid it no mind at the time, because you were too consumed with how amazing the two new facilities were to really care about documentation.

 

What you didn’t realize at the time was that the documentation you were given was incomplete. It was a sanitized version of what each stakeholder provided as the project ended. Warranty documentation was missing. Installation detail was missing. Lots of important and critical documentation that the district should have been given was simply not there.

 

But you had no idea.

 

Your project manager was ready to move on to their next project. They didn’t help you understand at all what you had been given. Your architect had long since moved on to other projects happening for their firm, so they were no help.

 

There was no one at the time, helping you understand what you were ultimately receiving. To you it was a bunch of binders of miscellaneous stuff that maybe you’d have to go back and reference at some point in the future. But at the time, all you cared about was getting the keys to your two new buildings.

 

Four years later you are sitting in your office when you get the call. The crack in one of the two new buildings that you’ve been arguing with the contractor that built the school to fix for months has opened up. Last night’s rains have weakened the structure enough that tragedy has just struck. Drywall and the lights that run the length of the cafeteria have fallen during the lunch period. Students are hurt.

 

School districts are in the education business, not the construction business. However anytime that a school undergoes any renovation or new construction project, they assume the role of owner. As the owner, they are ultimately responsible and liable for what happens as a result of any construction efforts.

 

As the superintendent you had no idea that the team that installed your roof had rushed their work. You had no idea that they performed much of that work in the rain the year before the school even opened. Items such as bracing, and bolts were never checked by anyone other than the individual contactors who installed it. There was no inspection paperwork during this critical phase of construction to reference. There was no way of you knowing that in the haste to accelerate the installation, construction guys were performing their jobs without checks and balances.

 

You are, after all an educator, not a construction manager.

 

But as kids are headed to the hospital and the district’s lawyer is holding on line three, you sort of wonder if you should have been. You wonder where all those binder that you had been given are now. Your lawyer is surely going to want them.

 

The reality is most superintendents are just like you. They want to build a clean, safe and amazing learning space for students and staff. They don’t know about roof construction. They don’t know about laying foundation or why cracks occur. They have little appreciation for what brand of locks are installed on the doors to the school. How are they supposed to know whether the glass rating on the installed windows can handle 70MPH winds?

 

But when you are the superintendent, you walk away with more than just the keys to a newly renovated or newly constructed facility. You walk away with the potential headaches and liability as well. That is why, as superintendent, you have to be concerned with every single aspect of every conceivable detail that goes into your facilities. It’s not exactly the job you signed up for is it? But as the superintendent, if your district is going to have construction of any kind it ultimately becomes a job you are responsible for.

 

We are Owner Insite! A construction project management software built for school districts. A set of tools to help make your job as owner of any renovation or new construction project easier.

 

We are passionate about helping school district leaders create a predictable and repeatable approach to insuring that projects are done correctly. It begins with providing a proven process of documenting, tracking and managing the critical construction data from anyone who has a role on your district’s project.

 

That means insuring everyone from your architect, engineer to every single contractor provides your district unfiltered and accurate information on exactly the work they are being paid to perform for you. Our software provides a level of transparency and accountability to insure no shortcuts are ever taken and that every single member of your construction project team has a platform to document and communicate their work.

 

Owner Insite is passionate about helping school district leaders play an involved role in their projects. We want to ensure that they are walking away with all of the documentation they need to protect their district’s interest long-term.

 

Clearly, we hope that nothing ever happens that injures anyone in your district. But if it does, there is no doubt your attorney will ask for any and all documentation that you have on your project. Isn’t it better to have that information in order and in a way that make sense?

 

That only happens when that information is placed correctly in an owner-focused platform like Owner Insite.

 

Owner Insite is more than construction project management for school district. It’s your district’s insurance policy.

Topics: School Districts, project management software, Choosing Software